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Dark Chapter Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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Outstanding praise for DARK CHAPTER
Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger
Shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize
Shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize
Runner-up in the SI Leeds Literary Prize
"Crime writers have long insisted that their genre tackles societal issues better than any other, and Winnie M Li proves that claim beyond a doubt. While the story centres around a horrific crime, it's the exploration of the aftermath and the cruelty of the justice system that sets this book apart. A fine debut from an exceptional talent, and an important study of the human cost of violence."
-Stuart Neville, award-winning author of The Ghosts of Belfast and So Say the Fallen
"A gripping debut...Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study." -Publishers Weekly
"That Li was able to write this novel, as both personal catharsis and public service, speaks volumes about her inner strength. Li's novel is both a valuable social document and a riveting page-turner." -Kirkus Reviews
"What is striking about this acclaimed first novel is that not only is it based on an incident in the author’s life, but the facility with which Li is able to intertwine the life stories of Vivian and Johnny, giving each substance and depth, sacrificing her own biases to create a clear sight line for the reader. Li skillfully compels the reader to examine life stories that have converged through a nightmarish act of violence." -Library Journal(Starred Review)
"A great, difficult, and important read.” -Book Riot
“A riveting, highly empathetic read.” -Seattle Review of Books
"This debut, based on true events, is a thoughtful, empathetic portrayal of the challenges rape victims face when seeking justice." -Booklist
"A heart-wrenching depiction of a dreadful crime and its horrifying aftermath. Brave, raw and strikingly original, it is a story that will resonate for many years." -Daily Mail (UK)
"Deftly written, pacey and unflinching, I could not put it down. Winnie Li is a rare talent with an explosive and timely story. Do not miss it."
-Marti Leimbach, bestselling author of Age of Consent
"I was totally gripped from the start. Dark Chapter is a brave book, and heart wrenching in places but essential in helping to break down the silence that surrounds rape in our society. Not only a beautiful book, but a very important one too."
-Madeleine Black, author of Unbroken
"An important and moving book."
Cathy Rentzenbrink, bestselling author of The Last Act of Love
"A fascinating book, which takes an unflinching look at reality of sexual violence. I found myself asking hard questions about society and relationships, but above all I was gripped by the brilliant and complex narrative. I have never found myself rooting for a heroine with more urgency than in Dark Chapter"
-Kate Rhodes, bestselling author of Blood Symmetry
"Lyrical, haunting and hypnotic. Winnie Li yanks us into the abyss, luring us to confront the complexities of our humanity before expertly pulling us out. An important novel."
-Irenosen Okojie, Betty Trask Award winning author of Butterfly Fish
About the Author
Winnie M Li is a writer and producer, who has worked in the creative industries on three continents. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals, and developed eco-tourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths (where she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2015), she now currently writes across a range of media (including a column for The Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 and also shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. She lives in London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Dark Chapter is her first novel.
Follow Winnie M. Li online at WinnieMLi.com or on Twitter at @winniemli.
Top customer reviews
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She takes an incredibly brutal, soul breaking act and turns it into a book that must be read particularly with how modern society treats the subject. Once I started it there was no way I was putting it down until I finished because Li’s writing talent jumps off the page to capture your attention in an iron fist. She will put you through the emotional ringer with no way to avoid the poignant and sometimes heartbreaking scenes she paints for her characters.
I feel incredibly honored to have been able to read this book before publication and have tremendous respect for Ms. Li. Based on her own story, she who poured forth her life in a violently honest way that will make you root for the protagonist as she morphs from victim to hero in both the fictional world and reality.
The story is told from two points of view, Vivian’s and Johnny’s. This makes for a difficult read at times. Johnny has few chances in life, he is brutalised and uncared for. Seeing Vivian, (whose own sections draw us into her life, who has our sympathy, our concern), from Johnny’s point of view is challenging, uncomfortable, horrible to read. I was pleased that the novel was unflinching though – Johnny has dehumanised women, his attitude borne of what he sees around him (his father’s treatment of his mother, his brother’s attitude to girls, the pornography he’s watched) and it’s shocking that he has no real remorse.
This is not just about the rape itself. It’s about the aftermath and what that does to both survivor and perpetrator. It’s about how the effects of this horrible crime last and exactly what they can do. It’s about the horrible processes involved afterwards, the endless recounting by Vivian to this expert and that doctor, this psychologist, that friend, of what has happened. It’s about the dreadful way she’s treated in court. But it’s also about her inner strength and her determination.
And it’s about Johnny, and how a young boy can become so full of anger, of hate, of violence that he can treat another human being like this.
I can’t imagine where Winnie M. Li found the strength to write this novel. But she has, and she’s written it with enormous skill. The shifts in point of view are seamless. Vivian is three-dimensional, complex and relatable. Johnny is the bad guy, undoubtedly, but he too is complex and horribly compelling to read. This isn’t sentimental or melodramatic. It’s gripping, unsettling and difficult.
And in the end it’s about Vivian’s survival, and her humanity.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the way she was able to capture the story alternating between her report of the devastating incident and her feelings with that of her rapist a 15 year old troubled teenager. She being a Taiwanese American Harvard graduate living in London with a great sense of adventure and love for travel and he being an abused child with no education leading a criminal life. She included a good part of the story to the perpetrator to understand his impoverished wretched life.
I felt her pain and the great support she received from her friends, the police and medical people in Belfast. And also the letdown from many in the London medical community while she went through her recovery which will probably leave scars for a lifetime.
She has a message for everyone about rape, how it’s handled and the many more unreported rapes that never get reported throughout the world that go without justice being served. She also shares how she was able to get on with her life and sense of adventure.
The author is a very brave and talented writer to bring this novel to fruition after many years of working on it. I recommend it to all readers and to bookclubs as there is so much to discuss about it.
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