Coming January 9th, 2024!

The Fetishist

by Katherine Min

Publishers Weekly

This spiky posthumous novel from Min (Secondhand World), who died in 2019, combines a story of lost love with a revenge fantasy and a critique of racial fetishism. The narrative revolves around two seemingly unrelated Asian American women: Kyoko, a Baltimore manga artist and punk rocker; and Alma, a retired classical cellist in Southern California, who’s struggling with late-stage multiple sclerosis. Between them stands Daniel Karmody, the washed-up leader of Thanatos—a Baltimore string quartet specializing in performances for the dying. Alma, who was once in a serious relationship with Karmody, writes a wistful Facebook message to him before attempting suicide. Meanwhile, Kyoko, whose late mother, Emi, was a student of Karmody’s, believes he was responsible for Emi’s suicide, and kidnaps him with murderous intent. Locked in Kyoko’s basement, Karmody considers the ways his fetish for Asian women have hurt those in his wake, and ultimately makes amends. Min’s emphasis on Karmody’s redemption in the final act is a curious and somewhat frustrating turn, given that the novel initially sets out to restore a sense of humanity to the women whose lives have been squeezed by stereotypes. Still, the technicolor, Tarantino-esque crime plot can be great fun. This has its moments.