New Fiction: The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty – Vendela Vida

Vida seems to me a literary writer on the verge of a much larger audience. She’s well known in the literary community and her last book, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, got this kind of praise from major outlets like the NYTBR:

Vida is a subtle writer whose voice is spare and authoritative, at times sounding like a less gothic Paul Bowles, and her third novel is further evidence that she can fashion characters as unpredictable as they are endearing.”

That certainly holds true for this fourth book—a novel that further extends her storytelling reach.

A woman travelling in Morocco has her backpack stolen and decides to let her identity disappear with it. She ends up joining a film production company as the stand in for a famous film star where she draws further from herself and into possibility. While using the structure of psychological suspense, this is ultimately a story about identity, free will, power, and a woman’s right to choose decide her path.

Vida is a founding editor of The Believer. Two of her novels have been NYT Notable Books and she is the winner of the Kate Chopin Award, given to a writer whose female protagonist chooses an unconventional path. She also co-wrote the film Away We Go and developed a Sundance Award-winning script for her novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

Review coverage scheduled so far includes the NYTBR, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Seattle Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Interview.

“Part glamorous travelogue, part slow-burn mystery, this full-bodied tale of a runaway is at once formally inventive and heartbreakingly familiar. Through her sumptuous descriptions of Morocco and the painfully real internal monologue of her second person narrator, Vendela Vida proves once and for all that wherever you go there you are– but that travel has the power to awaken new selves and heal primal wounds. (It’s also insanely funny.)”
— Lena Dunham

With her fourth novel, Vida returns to familiar themes of identity and recovery, concerns that are well suited to stories about traveling abroad….Written in the second person, the novel invites the reader to experience the protagonist’s separation firsthand. And as the woman’s situation becomes more complicated and her actions increasingly brazen, bits of her past are teased out. The result is an emotional and formally clever exploration of identity. Vida’s descriptive powers and restraint help to avoid the repetitive hammering of you that bogs down most second-person novels. Hard-boiled and inventive, the book takes a bold swing at mixing genres.”
— Publishers Weekly

“[A] wry, edgy, philosophical thriller, this love child of Albert Camus and Patricia Highsmith, this sly satire of Hollywood, this entertaining journey through the vast desert of identity and regret.”
—  Jess Walter

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (9780062110916) Vendela Vida. $25.99 hardcover. 6/2/15 on sale.

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