by Claire Oshetsky
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION
Chouette is a unique read. I remember being taught that the word “unique” is a superlative so no reason to attach words like very or quite or extremely to it. It is a word meant to stand on its own, so this is where I will leave it.
Some readers will love this book for its idiosyncrasies and particular look at parenthood, especially its view as one where each parent sees their child differently and wants different futures for them. This makes the book seem quite the metaphor for many children who are seen as not within the “norm.”
Chouette is born to a human parent but is owl like. Her mother had premonitions about this and faced a difficult decision to make about whether to seek an abortion. This may resonate a great deal, especially in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Because of who she is, Couchette engages in some predatory behaviors. At the same time, she is broken winged and perhaps not able to survive on her own, just as human babies cannot.
What will happen to Chouette and her family? Will they find a way to live together or will they be split apart? Read this tricky novel to find out. I’d love to know what readers think.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Ecco for this title. All opinions are my own.
Pub date: 16 November 2021 and recently out in paperback
“Searing and ethereal…. [Chouette focuses] squarely on Tiny’s fierce love as she battles her husband and nature to allow Chouette to be wild and exact, stakes that feel frightening and true to life…. A harrowing and magnificent fable.” — New York Times Book Review
“Oshetsky’s book is surrealism at its best…. “Chouette,” which abounds with humor and lush imagery, forces parents to consider their relationship with their children…. The book has deep and universal resonance.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Weirdly funny and bold, this novel will make you look at maternal sacrifice in a new way.” — Real Simple
“By turns poetic, gory, heartbreaking and strange…. An engrossing, surreal portrayal of motherhood.” — NPR