Well, it doesn’t rain but it pours.
I’m really glad to announce the re-issue of two of my novellas: Gaijin and The Splinter.
I confess that Gaijin was a disturbing story when I wrote it, and it still is for me now. In retrospect, I’m proud of myself for having the balls to write it because, at the time, I thought it wouldn’t have a hope in hell of getting published due to its non-consensual sex scenes.
If you are likely to be traumatized by a fictional encounter with rape, please don’t read the book. Although not particularly violent, the sex is, for the most part, non-consensual and, although it was my intention to erotically disturb the reader, it was certainly not my intention to trigger anyone’s trauma memories, so please be warned.
That being said, what compelled me to write Gaijin was the theme of how people play ‘tourists’ in other people’s cultures – fetishizing what catches their fancy and ignoring complexity. Both the characters in this story are guilty of ‘consuming’ the other’s culture in superficial and exploitative ways. I explored both the eroticization of culture and cultural appropriation.
A few critics have accused me of ‘orientalism‘ and, indeed, casting a Japanese male as the rapist in the story does follow the narrative framework of earlier western literary exploitations of ‘the mystery of the orient’ as a place to situate their own culturally unacceptable sexual fantasies: the evil white-slave-trading-Sheik, the dastardly ‘foreigner’ who corrupts nice white girls, the manipulative and seductive Asian dragon-lady who uses the hapless young Christian for her evil ends.
I was aware of these tropes and familiar with post-colonial criticisms of them long before I wrote Gaijin. I wanted to revisit them as a metaphor for how, by being fascinated by the superficial trappings of ‘foreign’ cultures, we’re still doing this. But I also wanted, having cast these characters into that narrative landscape, to give each of them solid, complex identities that break past that cliche.
Yes, it is a ‘foreign devil’ who misuses the heroine, but he has been simplistically judged by her. She is saved, both mentally and physically, by the very culture she has objectified.
Gaijin is my attempt, however poor, to interlace eroticism and cultural difference, without trying to escape the gravity well of earlier representations of the dangerous and mysterious orient or pretending it still does not play a part in the way we see ‘the other’. I hope you enjoy it.
Gaijin is published by Burning Book Press. It is available in the following formats:
Amazon.com Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Gaijin-ebook/dp/B00A82NCGY
Amazon.co.uk Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gaijin-ebook/dp/B00A82NCGY
Smashwords ePub, Mobi, PDF: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255351
The Splinter is one of the strangest works I’ve ever written. It grew out of a fascination, verging on obsession, with religious women like St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena and Santa Rosa of Lima: women who engaged in ‘mortification of the flesh‘ – extreme acts of self-harm to attain states of religious ecstasy.
Having grown up in Madrid and having spent time being educated in a Catholic convent, I have always been deeply conflicted by how much religious devotion intersects with eroticism. This is not a particularly original idea. Georges Bataille wrote extensively on the religious aspects of eroticism and so did many others.
But this sort of spiritual quest has been seen as a thing of the past. I wanted to write a modern story. I wanted to explore how a modern Catholic church coped with what would now, in our day, be redefined as simple acts of ‘self-harm’. And I wanted to write it in the framework of a rather extreme and erotic ‘coming of age’ story.
I think The Splinter might be considered, by devout Catholics, as a rather disgusting piece of blasphemy. But I would like to reiterate that this was not my intention. Although I am agnostic myself, I do have a genuine fascination for what draws people into religious lives, and this is obviously a fictional story of extremes and not a comment on anyone’s personal faith.
The Splinter is published by Burning Book Press, and is available in the following formats.
Amazon.com Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Splinter-ebook/dp/B00A82N9V2
Amazon.co.uk Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Splinter-ebook/dp/B00A82N9V2
Smashwords ePub, Mobi and PDF: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255340