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Woman, Eating

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A young, mixed-race vampire must find a way to balance her deep-seated desire to live amongst humans with her incessant hunger in this stunning debut novel from a writer-to-watch. Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside - the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced- A young, mixed-race vampire must find a way to balance her deep-seated desire to live amongst humans with her incessant hunger in this stunning debut novel from a writer-to-watch. Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside - the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can't eat any of these things. Her body doesn't work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs' blood in London--where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time - is much more difficult than she'd anticipated. Then there are the humans--the other artists at the studio space, the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men that follow her after dark, and Ben, a boyish, goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can't bring herself to feed on them. In her windowless studio, where she paints and studies the work of other artists, binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and videos of people eating food on YouTube and Instagram, Lydia considers her place in the world. She has many of the things humans wish for--perpetual youth, near-invulnerability, immortality--but, she is miserable; she is lonely; and she is hungry--always hungry. As Lydia develops as a woman and an artist, she will learn that she must reconcile the conflicts within her--between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans if she is to find a way to exist in the world. Before any of this, however, she must eat.


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A young, mixed-race vampire must find a way to balance her deep-seated desire to live amongst humans with her incessant hunger in this stunning debut novel from a writer-to-watch. Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside - the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced- A young, mixed-race vampire must find a way to balance her deep-seated desire to live amongst humans with her incessant hunger in this stunning debut novel from a writer-to-watch. Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside - the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can't eat any of these things. Her body doesn't work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs' blood in London--where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time - is much more difficult than she'd anticipated. Then there are the humans--the other artists at the studio space, the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men that follow her after dark, and Ben, a boyish, goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can't bring herself to feed on them. In her windowless studio, where she paints and studies the work of other artists, binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and videos of people eating food on YouTube and Instagram, Lydia considers her place in the world. She has many of the things humans wish for--perpetual youth, near-invulnerability, immortality--but, she is miserable; she is lonely; and she is hungry--always hungry. As Lydia develops as a woman and an artist, she will learn that she must reconcile the conflicts within her--between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans if she is to find a way to exist in the world. Before any of this, however, she must eat.

30 review for Woman, Eating

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    A sparsely written novel within the Sad Woman literary genre with a vampire twist. Unfortunately too sparse and distant for my tastes; I wish it had a stronger focus on the character’s mixed-race identity or relationship with her mother so that the narrative could be more compelling.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Now that was a unique vampire story if ever I read one! 🧛‍♀️ Lydia is a 23 year old art school graduate whose mother has recently been put in a nursing home. This is really her first time venturing out into the world without her mother by her side guiding her way. You see, Lydia isn't like you or I, she is a vampire. Her father was Japanese and what she considers to be her human side but her mother is a vampire that turned her when she was just a baby. Her mother was full of self loathing and ref Now that was a unique vampire story if ever I read one! 🧛‍♀️ Lydia is a 23 year old art school graduate whose mother has recently been put in a nursing home. This is really her first time venturing out into the world without her mother by her side guiding her way. You see, Lydia isn't like you or I, she is a vampire. Her father was Japanese and what she considers to be her human side but her mother is a vampire that turned her when she was just a baby. Her mother was full of self loathing and refers to them as demons that deserve nothing more than pigs blood, the filthiest of all animals. They were always able to procure pigs blood by the barrel from a local butcher that asked no questions but now that Lydia is on her own she is finding it more and more difficult to satisfy her hunger and with no pigs blood in sight she will need to get creative. (If you're like me you'll be thinking a vampire in a nursing home? What in the heck?!?! I assure you an answer is provided.) Lydia rents a studio space with other artists and she dreams of living amongst them, fully human. After attending a dinner party where people laugh and joke and revel in each others company she can't believe all she has missed out on and she is wondering if she can starve the demon out. She is desperate to be like them until she can no longer deny who and what she actually is. I truly loved Lydia as a character, vampire teeth and all. While her situation is unique her problems are those of any young woman trying to figure out her path in life. She mostly wants to be liked and loved by those around her. There is a constant nagging feeling of being different and less worthy of her peers and having obstacles that you can't really open up to friends about puts her in a precarious position. Speaking of friends, it's nearly impossible to have them when you have eternal life. When you stay the same and those around you fall in love, have children, and grow old and you are you, always and forever, for good or for bad. Not to mention her insatiable appetite and how she desperately wants to eat all of the food those around her are eating, especially that of Japanese food, which she feels would connect her with her human father. If your looking for thrills, chills, suspense, horror, blood, guts and gore then move along as you will not find any of that here. This is a character study of an interesting and intriguing young woman, a coming of age, or at least, coming of womanhood, narrated by a fascinating voice I will not soon forget. 4 stars! Thank you to NetGalley and HarperVia for my complimentary copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | letterboxd | | “I feel like giving up, lying down on this wall and closing my eyes and just doing nothing – not bothering to try to fit into the human world, not bothering to make friends and art, not bothering to source blood and feed myself.” Woman, Eating is a great example of a good concept being let down by a rather lacklustre execution…it lacked bite (ba dum tss). “I realised that demon is a subjective term, and the splitting of my identity between devil and god, betw | | blog | tumblr | letterboxd | | “I feel like giving up, lying down on this wall and closing my eyes and just doing nothing – not bothering to try to fit into the human world, not bothering to make friends and art, not bothering to source blood and feed myself.” Woman, Eating is a great example of a good concept being let down by a rather lacklustre execution…it lacked bite (ba dum tss). “I realised that demon is a subjective term, and the splitting of my identity between devil and god, between impure and pure, was something that my mum did to me rather than the reality of my existence.” Woman, Eating is yet another addition to what I have come to think of as the ‘sad, strange, miserable millennial’ subgenre. Kohda however does try to spice things up a bit by bringing into the mix vampirism: Lydia, our narrator, is in fact a vampire. Lydia is not doing so well. Her mother is a Malaysian/British vampire, her father was a human. Lydia grew up with her mother and knows very little about her father (other than that he was Japanese and a famous artist). Her mother hates what they are and has tried to instil this same self-hatred into Lydia. But now her mother is in a hospice and no longer remembers who and what they are. Lydia, alone for the first time in her life, moves into a studio space for young artists in London and begins working as an intern at an art gallery. In addition to navigating these new spaces and circumstances, Lydia has her hunger to preoccupy her. For some reason, she can’t find a way to get any pig blood and as the days go by she becomes increasingly hungry. She develops a sort of crush on Ben, a fellow artist in her building, but she isn’t sure whether it's because she’s starved (and wants him as a snack) or whether it’s something more genuine. She can’t seem to bring herself to produce any more art and at the gallery is either mistreated or ignored. Worse still, the director of the gallery, Gideon, is also giving her some serious creepy predatory vibes. Lydia is fascinated by human food and spends a lot of her time watching mukbangs, reading food recipes, and wondering how different food tastes. She reflects on her nature, if she has any of her father’s humanity or whether her mother is right and they are monsters. Her vampirism, which leads her to be obsessed with and averse towards human food, does read like a metaphor for an eating disorder. And the vampire trope does indeed lend itself to exploring alienation, as well as things such as EDs. In an interview, Anne Rice described ‘the vampire’ as being ‘outside of life’, thus ‘the greatest metaphor for the outsider in all of us’. And Lydia struggles with her otherness, interrogating her own monstrosity and humanity. Additionally, Lydia is experiencing the fears and doubts that many people in their 20s do: what do you want to do with your life? What kind of job do you want? Where do you want to live? Are the things you want even an option to you? Lydia’s mixed ethnic heritage further exacerbates her sense of being ‘other’. Kohda addresses the kind of stereotypes and assumptions people make about those of whom are of East Asian descent. For example, a fellow artist in her building, and coincidentally Ben’s girlfriend, points out that because she’s Japanese people assume her work is ‘delicate’ (even when it is anything but). I would have actually liked more conversation on art than what we were given but still there are some thoughtful asides on modern art. Lydia spends most of her narrative in a state of misery. Her self-hatred and hunger occupy her every thought…until she finds something (or something) to eat. This was a relatable if depressing read. While a lot of other books from this ‘disconnected young women’ literary trend are characterized by a wry sense of humor, Lydia’s narration is devoid of any lightness. Her narration is unrelentingly miserable. This made her interior monologue, which makes up the majority of the novel, a bit of a chore to read through. Her navel-gazing was dreary and I often found myself losing interest in her introspections. The narrative felt oppressive, which in some ways does mirror Lydia’s lonely existence but it also makes her story repetitive. There were only three recognizable side characters, the others being little more than names on a page, and they all felt vague. Lydia’s mother was perhaps the most interesting figure but she mostly appears in flashbacks where she is preaching about their monstrosity and the danger of being discovered. Ben was a generic boy who came across as an only half-formed character (he only said things along the lines of "i don't know.."). The gallery director…I appreciated how the author is able to articulate that specific type of unease (of an older man, possibly your colleague or superior, being ‘off’ towards you) that I am sure many young women (sadly) know. But then the role he plays was somewhat forgettable? He is there, to begin with, and then fades into the background only to appear at the very end. The storyline lacked focus. It meandered without any clear direction. And this can work if your narrator is engaging or compelling enough but Lydia wasn’t. She was pitiable but pitying a character has never made me feel inclined to ‘read’ on to find out what happens to them. Still, the author’s prose was fairly solid and certain passages even reminded of Hilary Leichter and Sayaka Murata (very matter of fact yet incredibly peculiar, especially when it comes to the 'body' or bodily functions: “My mum’s brain, which sits in a body just metres away from me now, must contain the memory of eating whole meals, of the feel of her body processing those meals, of tasting different flavours.” ). The way vampirism operates in this world is not clear-cut and I think that really suited this type of story. I did question whether pig blood would be truly so hard to get ahold of and why Lydia didn't try to get ahold of some other source of food sooner... This novel did not make for a satisfying meal. I never felt quite sure whether I liked what I was being offered and then once it was over I found that I was still hungry. While I liked certain elements and the central idea, the story, plotline, and characters were different shades of average. More than once I found myself thinking that Lydia's story would have been better suited to a shorter format (as opposed to a full-length novel). Still, even if this novel failed to leave a mark on me I look forward to whatever Kohda writes next.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    What I was promised: a young vampire artist hungry for blood and life, while struggling with her identity and immortality What I got: an underwhelming extended metaphor with a romantic subplot I think the story of the protagonist’s self-loathing vampire mother and human father would have made for a more interesting novel than the one we got. Verdict: unsatisfying. I’m giving it an extra star because it’s a debut.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie Colson

    It is well written and has such rich dark academia vibes. So much so that I felt excluded from the narrative. The talk of ✨art✨ is beyond me. I don’t understand or want to understand the artistic discussions being had in this book. I want blood sucking. I want SOMETHING paranormal but instead I'm getting a vampire reading other people's grocery lists and longing to be human. While I understand that, the book is 230 pages. We didn't need 220 of them to be the internal monologue of a 'literary sad It is well written and has such rich dark academia vibes. So much so that I felt excluded from the narrative. The talk of ✨art✨ is beyond me. I don’t understand or want to understand the artistic discussions being had in this book. I want blood sucking. I want SOMETHING paranormal but instead I'm getting a vampire reading other people's grocery lists and longing to be human. While I understand that, the book is 230 pages. We didn't need 220 of them to be the internal monologue of a 'literary sad girl'. This is a character study and I wish I had known that going in because it would have leveled my expectations. But, as it is, I was bored.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    3.5 stars. 🐖🩸🧛‍♀️🎨🐶 unsettling, viscerally disgusting

  7. 4 out of 5

    fatma

    Depressed Woman literary fiction, except the woman in question happens to be a vampire. I thought this was a really interesting novel, sparsely written, and with a lot of insights on eating and hunger and alienation--but that's exactly it: it never went beyond interesting for me. The ideas were there, but I just never felt in any way emotionally invested in or moved by this story. Depressed Woman literary fiction, except the woman in question happens to be a vampire. I thought this was a really interesting novel, sparsely written, and with a lot of insights on eating and hunger and alienation--but that's exactly it: it never went beyond interesting for me. The ideas were there, but I just never felt in any way emotionally invested in or moved by this story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ellis

    Millenial ennui but make it vampire.

  9. 5 out of 5

    lou

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the eARC. Can't believe a book about a woman whose a vampire left me down. In Woman, Eating we follow Lydia, Lyd, after she moves to a studio with other artists and starts an internship in, what she considered, a great place. She also gets to met Ben, an... awkward guy that was not interesting but got the attention of our mc, of course. As much as I wanted to love this because of its premise, it felt like something was missing, there were so many mom Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the eARC. Can't believe a book about a woman whose a vampire left me down. In Woman, Eating we follow Lydia, Lyd, after she moves to a studio with other artists and starts an internship in, what she considered, a great place. She also gets to met Ben, an... awkward guy that was not interesting but got the attention of our mc, of course. As much as I wanted to love this because of its premise, it felt like something was missing, there were so many moments where it felt like we finally got to something only to be lackluster afterwards. Everything felt disconnected, at the beginning of whatever idea was presented, it had me captivated and seemed like something that had potential, but then it left me with a sour taste and didnt do anything that amazed me. For example, the relationship with her mother (and also her dad), there was a lot to explore considering what happened. The side characters, especially Anju, were really interesting and I wished the author found a way to show them more, they were described as such interesting characters only to be left out after that one scene they appeared. Overall, really disappointing, the only thing that I can rescue is the writing since it does mirror Lyd very well, obscure, sad and quite distant.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nina The Wandering Reader

    WOMAN, EATING by Claire Kohda is a story of a young woman who’s half Japanese, half vampire and it not only met a lot of my expectations, but also made me really hungry! Lydia is making her way in the world for the first time without her vampire mother who’s been put in a home. She’s twenty-three, an art school graduate, new to London, and always hungry. She’s used to a strict diet of pig’s blood, having never once sunk her teeth into human flesh and unable to digest human foods. She wishes she WOMAN, EATING by Claire Kohda is a story of a young woman who’s half Japanese, half vampire and it not only met a lot of my expectations, but also made me really hungry! Lydia is making her way in the world for the first time without her vampire mother who’s been put in a home. She’s twenty-three, an art school graduate, new to London, and always hungry. She’s used to a strict diet of pig’s blood, having never once sunk her teeth into human flesh and unable to digest human foods. She wishes she could eat the foods her father used to eat—sushi, ramen, sashimi. In fact, one of the things she loves about fully human people is how their food makes up a part of who they are. And so when she’s not binge-watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she’s hours deep into YouTube videos of people eating food. She wonders if being a vampire inherently makes her a bad person and there’s a cute boy she likes but also wants to eat. Basically she’s got it rough in spite of her immortality and eternal youth. I picked up this book hoping Lydia would be predatory and vicious (because I love my bloodshed) but instead, she’s awkward, yearning, lonely, insightful, and sweet. I just wanted to hug her. This is a book about a young woman’s desire and appetite, about race and self-love, about wanting to belong while feeling stuck in the middle. Pick this one up if you’re looking for books that give an appreciation for food and art, or if you’re on the search for paranormal fiction centering a mixed-race vampire written by an Asian author!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Most vampire fiction gets vampires wrong. Or at least, it creates vampires I don’t care for or about, glamorous nihilists drunk on decadence or brooding forever-teens. And so, it’s always a pleasure and sometimes an event when someone gets vampires right. And this book came tantalizingly close. Its protagonist, Lydia, a 23-year-old woman freshly on her own after spending all of her life with an oppressive and mean mother, it trying to find her way in the world and, mostly, just trying to eat. Th Most vampire fiction gets vampires wrong. Or at least, it creates vampires I don’t care for or about, glamorous nihilists drunk on decadence or brooding forever-teens. And so, it’s always a pleasure and sometimes an event when someone gets vampires right. And this book came tantalizingly close. Its protagonist, Lydia, a 23-year-old woman freshly on her own after spending all of her life with an oppressive and mean mother, it trying to find her way in the world and, mostly, just trying to eat. The title…it’s apt. Lydia’s mom is a self-loathing vampire, a quality she tried to instill in her daughter, referring to themselves as demons, unworthy, etc. There’s no logical explanation to how her mother was able to get pregnant with her (by a regular, non-vampire father) and have a child and then turn the child into a vampire as a baby and have her grow to adulthood…that’s just kinda there for you to suspend your disbelief and go along with. But now that Lydia’s 23, she is done growing, she just needs blood to sustain her life. The thing is…her mother raised her on animal blood they’d get from a local butcher, but now that avenue is closed, and Lydia can’t line up a new supply and so she’s hungry. Terribly, terribly hungry. She’s also trying to set up a new life for herself, by renting an art studio she also sleeps in, making new friends in the building and working an internship at a trendy gallery with a creep for an owner. So, in a way it’s a coming-of-age story too. An aspect that easily overshadows the vampire thing. Lamentably so, because reading about a character with a very unusual set of personal challenges is considerably more interesting than reading about a Gen Z artist trying to make her way through life. The latter is practically New Adult or at least very hipstery and the entire production is certainly very hip, but it stretches itself thin with insubstantiality, much like Lydia’s attempts at abetting her appetites with powdered blood. This would have made a dynamic novella, as a novel, even a relatively short one, it leaves something to be desired. There’s too much concentration on the awkward romantic subplot with an awkward romantic lead who speaks in unfinished sentences. There’s a MeToo workplace situation nod. But overall, the novel seems to skirt its most fascinating aspects in favor of the quotidian ones. It’s a nicely written book, especially for a debut, original and has a great ending, but it’s also young in slightly emo, Twilight generation way. So, something of a mixed bag, but at least a quick read. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "I took his hands, and his body slumped into mine, and he whispered a few times, I’m so hungry, I’m so hungry, I’m so hungry. And then, I ate him." Vampire books are definitely my thing. Okay, vampires, in general, are my thing. It's really no secret. They are broody, have strong jawlines, and are just about the only thing that looks delectable in velvet. Plus they bite. What more could I ask for? I'm always on the hunt for a vampire novel that is way outside of the norm. I want something differen "I took his hands, and his body slumped into mine, and he whispered a few times, I’m so hungry, I’m so hungry, I’m so hungry. And then, I ate him." Vampire books are definitely my thing. Okay, vampires, in general, are my thing. It's really no secret. They are broody, have strong jawlines, and are just about the only thing that looks delectable in velvet. Plus they bite. What more could I ask for? I'm always on the hunt for a vampire novel that is way outside of the norm. I want something different, something I haven't read before. This is where Woman, Eating steps in and what a masterpiece! This is not your typical vampire novel and just the right thing that I have been craving. It’s nothing like these current lame-ass books where vampires are glittery and are afraid of just about everything. This was epic asf. It was one of those books that took you on a journey and you never knew where it was going to lead. And it had the most perfect ending. Not the ending I thought it was going to have but I loved it anyway. Lydia was just your "typical" woman who just wanted to see what it was like to be normal. Normal in a way where she could go to the beach with friends, eat real food, find true love, and have a family. But deep down there was a hunger growing inside of her and she needed to quench that thirst before dire things happen. Her character was so well thought-out and planned. She wasn't all over the place like other vampires, she was one that knew what she wanted and didn't let anyone or anything stop her. Lydia definitely gave off some Jennifer’s Body vibes!! Woman, Eating was such a fantastic novel. It was so very different than what we are used to with vampire novels and I think that's why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I also loved the fact that this wasn't all about ripping throats out of unsuspecting people (Even though I would have loved that too). There was a lot more to the story than that. It was great and I really hope you give this one a try. "Inside your body is death."

  13. 4 out of 5

    m.

    eARC provided by Netgalley in exhange for an honest review. Woman, Eating is the book to read if you want an example of completely wasted potential. We follow our protagonist, Lydia, around the city as she begins an art internship under an infamous so-called "art advocate", where she moves into a studio shared by multiple other young artists and cautiously enters a complicated relationship with a boy named Ben. But she's also a vampire, slowly descending into hunger as she struggles to find a eARC provided by Netgalley in exhange for an honest review. Woman, Eating is the book to read if you want an example of completely wasted potential. We follow our protagonist, Lydia, around the city as she begins an art internship under an infamous so-called "art advocate", where she moves into a studio shared by multiple other young artists and cautiously enters a complicated relationship with a boy named Ben. But she's also a vampire, slowly descending into hunger as she struggles to find animal blood to feed from. Woman, Eating should've been a great addition to the rising genre of Sad Woman, with all the necessary traits that could have warranted it a high standing alongside with some of my favorites, such as A Certain Hunger, The Pisces, Strange Weather In Tokyo and My Year of Rest and Relaxation. All the books I mentioned follow the same concept—a depressed woman, living her life while a complicated relationship/desire/urge connects her inner longing to a current event unfolding in her life. But while all the others managed to fulfill expectations laid by its synopsis and follow a clean, well-written storyline, Kohda failed to materialize into words any idea she could've held in her head. The best way I can describe this book is surface level. Kohda constantly teases interesting conversations, but when the trap is set, she immeditely moves back into the comfortable blandness of the narrador's inner monologue. Lydia is a passive, forgettable character, and since the beginning I found myself unable to root for her. Even when she did questionable things, I was unable to even hate her, I just didn't care where she ended up. As for the side characters, even with their minimal page time, left me curious to know more. Anju in particular was a very interesting character that was swept under the rug in favor of an unoriginal plotline centering a white man. I will admit, the last chapter was surprisingly Fleabag esque, and I actually enjoyed the puppet storyline, but even the big climax failed to impress after so many pages of bleak prose and even bleaker character work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    mesal

    Read my full blog review here! Woman, Eating was great. Both on an allegorical level and a very literal one: Lydia's life as a vampire unable to eat what she wants most—human food—and subsequently denying herself blood can be seen as a not-so-subtle commentary on eating disorders; her mother's whole existence can be replaced with the concept of Lydia's insecurities about herself and her place in society, because her mother is the root of these insecurities and also interchangeable with them, at l Read my full blog review here! Woman, Eating was great. Both on an allegorical level and a very literal one: Lydia's life as a vampire unable to eat what she wants most—human food—and subsequently denying herself blood can be seen as a not-so-subtle commentary on eating disorders; her mother's whole existence can be replaced with the concept of Lydia's insecurities about herself and her place in society, because her mother is the root of these insecurities and also interchangeable with them, at least in Lydia's eyes. If one reads the story as it is, though, it's still engaging. As a Gen Z vampire, Lydia resorts to YouTube and Instagram to watch people eat food in lieu of eating it herself; when she's in a mood, she ignores all texts and phone calls in order to binge Buffy The Vampire Slayer on her laptop. Despite being a supernatural creature, she's true to life, and true to our lives in the contemporary digital age. Although technology in fiction sometimes seems to take away from the vibrancy of a more "natural" life, so to speak, in this novel it fit seamlessly. Pacing-wise, this novel is pretty slow until it suddenly isn't. That's not a bad thing, at least in my opinion: the pacing reflects Lydia's own internal struggles with her identity, and when she finally figures things out, she makes decisions in rapid succession, because her fears have now been alleviated. She's pretty fun to follow around in her life between her studio and the Otter, an art gallery where she's completing an internship; her sudden impatience whenever her mother is mentioned allows the reader insight into why she avoids meeting her as much as possible. Kohda explores a lot of heavy topics in her debut: identity, colonialism, the female appetite, vapidity in the art scene. While done meticulously and impressively, she sometimes falls into the habit of over-explaining the thought process behind her words: In the photo accompanying the article, artwork from what looks like all over the world is spread across the floor, on the walls, even hanging from the ceiling. In the centre of it all is Gideon, sitting on a wooden chair that looks like a throne. Pretty imagery, but a bit too obvious: we already know Gideon's associations with colonialism in the form of stealing artwork from various countries. The reader doesn't have to be told (again) that he's associated with colonialism in the form of stealing artwork from various countries. (This is what reading that quote felt like.) Still a great read, though, and one I'd easily give five stars. I'd also highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading both vampire novels and literary fiction—not just one, because this blend of the two won't be to everyone's taste. Thank you to NetGalley as well as Little, Brown Book Group for providing me with an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    TITLE: Woman Eating AUTHOR: Claire Khoda PUB DATE: 04.12.2022 Now Available REVIEW: Read. This. Book. One of the most unique stories I have read. Woman Eating is about Lydia. She is 23, half Japanese and half Malaysian, and a Vampire, turned by her mother when she was a baby. Lydia is hungry and has an insatiable appetite. She longs for Japanese food, perhaps in order to be human just like her father, and craves for life, for acceptance, for friendships, and so many more! In this character driven s TITLE: Woman Eating AUTHOR: Claire Khoda PUB DATE: 04.12.2022 Now Available REVIEW: Read. This. Book. One of the most unique stories I have read. Woman Eating is about Lydia. She is 23, half Japanese and half Malaysian, and a Vampire, turned by her mother when she was a baby. Lydia is hungry and has an insatiable appetite. She longs for Japanese food, perhaps in order to be human just like her father, and craves for life, for acceptance, for friendships, and so many more! In this character driven story, Woman Eating explores themes that many will find timely that address identity, racism, acceptance, and independence in this coming of age story. Wonderfully written.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ashley (ashley's little library)

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book! I am obsessed with this lonely, sad girl, artist vampire! This is definitely more of a “character study” and it falls into the “literary sad girl” genre that’s all the buzz right now, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. This story reminds me a lot of how I feel watching an A24 film - hypnotized, mildly uncertain, and questionably satisfied by the end. If you like the works of Ottessa Moshfegh or perhaps Sally Roon Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book! I am obsessed with this lonely, sad girl, artist vampire! This is definitely more of a “character study” and it falls into the “literary sad girl” genre that’s all the buzz right now, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. This story reminds me a lot of how I feel watching an A24 film - hypnotized, mildly uncertain, and questionably satisfied by the end. If you like the works of Ottessa Moshfegh or perhaps Sally Rooney, this may be for you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    маја

    i liked it i just wasn't blown away by it, i think if you like sad women fiction and you're curious about how a literary vampire novel is executed you should definitely check this out i liked it i just wasn't blown away by it, i think if you like sad women fiction and you're curious about how a literary vampire novel is executed you should definitely check this out

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris DiFazio

    Incredibly weird and good and probably the best vampire story I've ever read. Incredibly weird and good and probably the best vampire story I've ever read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Woman, Eating. Let me be clear: this is not your typical vampire novel. No one sparkles here, thank God. There's some blood, a little, but not much. I had some expectations, more of the violent kind, sort of like an Interview with the Vampire, but Woman, Eating was more than that. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Lydia is a vampire and an artist struggling to find her voice and when she begins an internship at a gallery, she believes she may have finally fo Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Woman, Eating. Let me be clear: this is not your typical vampire novel. No one sparkles here, thank God. There's some blood, a little, but not much. I had some expectations, more of the violent kind, sort of like an Interview with the Vampire, but Woman, Eating was more than that. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Lydia is a vampire and an artist struggling to find her voice and when she begins an internship at a gallery, she believes she may have finally found her tribe. She meets humans, and is taken with Ben, an artist she begins to have feelings for. But she's constrained; by her true persona, the beliefs her mother has instilled in her since she was young about their demonic origins and Lydia is torn between trying to live a normal life she may be able to have or living within the margins of normalcy and darkness. Life is hard. She's starving, she's hungry, she's lonely, she misses her mother, she watches food bloggers and wonders what it might be like to eat Japanese food, or any food. Despite her longevity and the power she keeps tightly wrapped within herself, when Lydia is sexually assaulted by the gallery owner, she is stunned. Shocked. Powerless. A feeling she is not accustomed to. How can this be? Someone with her knowledge, her wisdom and experience, and an inappropriate touch has rendered her into a mere mortal. She does not like this feeling. She does not approve. What can she do? Lydia struggles with her immortality, and the mortal side of her. The assault has rendered her speechless and furious. She is a vampire but also a woman. Which will win out? Her desire to be human is what keeps her ethical and whole, but when she eventually comes to realize that she is not human, she accepts that's...not really a bad thing. Despite it's short length, the author packs a lot in here and it's heavy: issues of race, disability, misogyny, body image, sexual abuse are touched upon, but also societal expectations, personal desires, love and companionship. Lydia, despite her vampirism, is no different than mortals; she desires love, a purpose, to enjoy food, to enjoy life, seeking a tribe of her own, wonders about her origins and her future. She's not just hungry for blood to sustain her life, she's hungry for life, to live like everyone else, to belong somewhere and be like everyone else. Lydia is no stranger to the tribulations mortal women face as well; sexism, degradation, her purpose constrained by men and societal expectations, and when she's assaulted, it's still a blatant shock. How can someone with her power and life still be demeaned? It torments her as she wracks her brain wondering why she didn't speak up or fight back. Is it because she wants to be like everyone else and just let it go? Or is it something worse? I was intrigued by Lydia's mother and her origins; how she became a vampire is touched upon but not elaborated. I wished the author had delved more deeply on that subject. I liked Lydia. She's sensitive, empathetic and self aware; perhaps because she's really much older than she looks. Some of her habits I could identify with, such as watching food videos and wishing for something you don't have and wish you have. The writing was good, thoughtful, and though I saw the ending coming, it was satisfying. There's a lot to digest (pun intended) in Woman, Eating and it was not the read I had been expecting but it was a different kind of good read for October. Its not a scary read, but it makes you think, and the issues are as prevalent now or 100 years ago, no matter your age or how immortal or mortal you may be.

  20. 5 out of 5

    rosamund taylor

    Like many young people, Lydia is struggling to find her feet. She's an artist who can only afford to sleep on a yoga mat in her studio space, and she's doing an internship where she's forced to defer to rich and spoiled people who don't care about her well-being. But Lydia is also different, because she's a vampire. Her Japanese father died before she was born, and her Malaysian mother turned Lydia into a vampire when she was a baby. Lydia grows into an adult, but her body can never change after Like many young people, Lydia is struggling to find her feet. She's an artist who can only afford to sleep on a yoga mat in her studio space, and she's doing an internship where she's forced to defer to rich and spoiled people who don't care about her well-being. But Lydia is also different, because she's a vampire. Her Japanese father died before she was born, and her Malaysian mother turned Lydia into a vampire when she was a baby. Lydia grows into an adult, but her body can never change after that. This is a strange book: it's written in the first-person, present-tense style so common in recent novels by new writers, and the writing, while clear, is bland and not very memorable. This seemed at odds with the subject matter of the book, which is full of descriptions of blood, and is a strange and compelling meditation on food, racism, immortality, childhood abuse, and being a vampire. Through vampirism, Claire Kohda looks at our relationship with consumption, and the perils of trying to eke out a living under late capitalism. This book might have only been a three-star read for me, but, though the ending is a little rushed, it really pulls the story together. I very much enjoyed reading the ways in which Lydia embraced herself, and got revenge on those who hurt her. There are definitely some problems with this narrative, including too many threads left unresolved, and a bland prose style, but it is original in many ways, and a very fresh take on the vampire story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Reminder: I don't give stars because they're dumb and bad Lydia, the titular woman, is consumed with eating. She imagines eating, pantomimes eating, watches others eat, and thinks about eating almost every moment of every day. Lydia does not eat, not much, because Lydia is also a vampire. Woman, Eating is a rare book title that contains a comma, and just as that comma is caught between two words, our narrator, Lydia, is caught between two worlds. She is human, she is vampire. She is Japanese, she Reminder: I don't give stars because they're dumb and bad Lydia, the titular woman, is consumed with eating. She imagines eating, pantomimes eating, watches others eat, and thinks about eating almost every moment of every day. Lydia does not eat, not much, because Lydia is also a vampire. Woman, Eating is a rare book title that contains a comma, and just as that comma is caught between two words, our narrator, Lydia, is caught between two worlds. She is human, she is vampire. She is Japanese, she is British. She is a college graduate who has yet to commit to any specific career. She also has no home because she has lost her childhood house when she put her mom, also a vampire, in an assisted living facility. This book feels a lot like My Year of Rest and Relaxation in that not much happens outside of the narrator's head (at least until the end). Also like MYoRaR, this narrator obsesses over what she does or does not put in her body, and like MYoRaR, the narrator is grieving heavily, while not acknowledging her own loss. Claire Kohda is a gorgeous writer, and this debut novel contains sentences of simply heartbreaking beauty. Moreover, Kohda handily evokes that weird world-weary newness of being a young adult, the world so open to you that you are paralyzed by choice. That said, the mother character gets dropped like second-period French, and I would have liked a little more resolution for the main character, regardless of which direction she decided to go. I liked Woman, Eating a lot, and I'll definitely keep a lookout for what Kohda writes in the future.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Talia

    Sad girl, but make it Vampire! This book is a hypnotic character study that focuses on hunger, not just for food but also for acceptance. Lydia, our protagonist, is caught between two worlds: vampire versus human, and her cultural backgrounds. She is lost with no clear path ahead of her, attempting to find her place in the world and connect with people but finding it exceedingly difficult. Lydia’s story is incredibly lonely, bleak, and uncertain. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and rush Sad girl, but make it Vampire! This book is a hypnotic character study that focuses on hunger, not just for food but also for acceptance. Lydia, our protagonist, is caught between two worlds: vampire versus human, and her cultural backgrounds. She is lost with no clear path ahead of her, attempting to find her place in the world and connect with people but finding it exceedingly difficult. Lydia’s story is incredibly lonely, bleak, and uncertain. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and rushed, but I still enjoyed this book a lot. The book, like Lydia's story, lacks a bit of resolution. You could argue that it goes nowhere, and it had no real plot and was mostly just vibes, but I enjoyed and appreciated the time I spent with it. Thank you so much to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ingerlisa

    Although I was intrigued, enjoyed the characters and the fresh take on vampirism in a Gen Z world I wasn't very satisfied with the way it ended. I felt like it touched on a lot of different discussions yet never fully delved further than surface level sadly. Although I was intrigued, enjoyed the characters and the fresh take on vampirism in a Gen Z world I wasn't very satisfied with the way it ended. I felt like it touched on a lot of different discussions yet never fully delved further than surface level sadly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I. Am. Obsessed!!! Honestly, this book is giving me all of the vibes. The flawed characters, the forbidden love, the food. I loved every aspect of this. Kohda weaves an addictive story where a mixed-race vampire attempts to find her place in a human world. By ignoring ties to her mother, and therefore the vampire side of her identity, Lydia finds herself living on her own for the first time in her life, and she's not settling into it as easily as she expected. As I was reading this, I was having I. Am. Obsessed!!! Honestly, this book is giving me all of the vibes. The flawed characters, the forbidden love, the food. I loved every aspect of this. Kohda weaves an addictive story where a mixed-race vampire attempts to find her place in a human world. By ignoring ties to her mother, and therefore the vampire side of her identity, Lydia finds herself living on her own for the first time in her life, and she's not settling into it as easily as she expected. As I was reading this, I was having visceral flashbacks to my uni days of studying literature, it's something that I would have loved to read in a curriculum, there's so much substance to it. There are so many connections between family (especially mother-daughter relationships), commentary on what it means to be a woman (based on food and social standing to men), what our food tells us about where we come from, how it forms human bonds, how to stand up for yourself and accept your own identity. It's such a rich text that I could not get enough of. I devoured it. Even now writing this review, my brain is jumping all over the place with everything that that this book gives you to think about. Kohda has absolutely nailed this and I will 100% be recommending it to everyone. Thank you to Virago and Netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review of this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ygraine

    i found this Unsatisfying, which is, given the premise, ironic. the protagonist's habit of watching 'what i eat in a day' youtube videos feels like a solid analogy for my experience reading; twitchings of curiosity and interest, but mostly frustration at the passivity, the impossibility of feeling or smelling or touching or eating any of it, the arbitrary-feeling window of time in someone else's life where things happen mostly in the cuts & edits, the smooth, impenetrable surface, interface, of i found this Unsatisfying, which is, given the premise, ironic. the protagonist's habit of watching 'what i eat in a day' youtube videos feels like a solid analogy for my experience reading; twitchings of curiosity and interest, but mostly frustration at the passivity, the impossibility of feeling or smelling or touching or eating any of it, the arbitrary-feeling window of time in someone else's life where things happen mostly in the cuts & edits, the smooth, impenetrable surface, interface, of the screen/text, the reliance on imagination to make Something out of any of it ? i wish this had been more about puppets, or colonialism, or carnality, or pleasure, or the protagonist's mother, and really Dug Its Teeth In. or that it was a short story. (thanks to netgalley for an advance copy!)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    So disappointing... I read the first section, about 80 pages, 36% and nothing seems to have happened: Lyd has moved into a studio apartment, tried to get pig's blood to drink, and watched an awful lots of YouTube and social videos.... and that's kind of it. Oh, and she's smuggled a puppet home from her internship. There's no hook for me, not even an inkling of story or plot, and the writing and observations just aren't strong enough to stand alone. Love the premise but I wanted more focus, and s So disappointing... I read the first section, about 80 pages, 36% and nothing seems to have happened: Lyd has moved into a studio apartment, tried to get pig's blood to drink, and watched an awful lots of YouTube and social videos.... and that's kind of it. Oh, and she's smuggled a puppet home from her internship. There's no hook for me, not even an inkling of story or plot, and the writing and observations just aren't strong enough to stand alone. Love the premise but I wanted more focus, and something for the writing to hang on.

  27. 5 out of 5

    andra

    who knew a book about a vampire can make me feel so seen? woman, eating is a book abt our mc, lydia, who is half vampire and has just started living alone without her mother. as a half-vampire from her mom, and half human from her dad’s side, lydia is always hungry. she craves for her human side, to be able to taste food that her dad liked to eat, to know her mixed heritage from her dad who is japanese but she really doesn’t know much about it and also her mom. she craves to know human interactio who knew a book about a vampire can make me feel so seen? woman, eating is a book abt our mc, lydia, who is half vampire and has just started living alone without her mother. as a half-vampire from her mom, and half human from her dad’s side, lydia is always hungry. she craves for her human side, to be able to taste food that her dad liked to eat, to know her mixed heritage from her dad who is japanese but she really doesn’t know much about it and also her mom. she craves to know human interactions and relationships but her vampire side conflicts with all those cravings, from her only able to eat blood, and her craving for human’s blood as after going away discovering it isn’t easy to get the blood she needs. we basically follow lydia’s life and her stream of consciousness as she tries to navigate life for the first time now that she’s living alone and through all her cravings and conflicts of identity, heritage, and relationships with food and human. for a book about a vampire, this book is actually very much human. i feel like this book would be polarizing and it’s definitely for not everyone but to those who loves character driven, stream of consciousness, and slice of life in their books, i’ll definitely recommend you to read this one. not much really happened, per say with the plot and storyline. but i had fun in lydia’s head! I loved that we really get to feel her internal conflicts and know her thoughts, because it made me!empathize with her character more. I also loved the topics that was discussed, such as sexual assault, race and identity with lydia wondering about her origins but also her future and her sadness of not knowing her father’s heritage. what i love about this book is that it touches on these topics in such a unique way, of kohda writing them in the forms of lydia questioning her vampirism and also lydia talking about her hunger and food in general. it was a refreshing and unique take on the “woman in their 20s trying to navigate through life” subgenre in fiction. this book was released on march 24 in the uk and is going to be released on april 12 in the us! thank you netgalley for the arc!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    This clever and humorous novel goes some way to answering the many questions one might have about a vampire trying to survive in modern day London; how to exist without breaking the law, dealing with the disintegrating mental health of an elderly parent (also a vampire), and even dental problems. And the answer isn’t as simple as black pudding either. Lydia is an art student new to the city, determined to live life and refusing to exist in the shadows as her forebears have done. Her mother has f This clever and humorous novel goes some way to answering the many questions one might have about a vampire trying to survive in modern day London; how to exist without breaking the law, dealing with the disintegrating mental health of an elderly parent (also a vampire), and even dental problems. And the answer isn’t as simple as black pudding either. Lydia is an art student new to the city, determined to live life and refusing to exist in the shadows as her forebears have done. Her mother has filled with her self-loathing, teaching her daughter that unclean pig blood is all they deserve. Ironically though, with her job, it is food vlogs of sushi and hand-stretched noodles that fill Lydia’s day, a forlorn reminder both of her disappeared humanness and her Japanese heritage she barely knows. It was time for something fresh in the vampire library, and this fits the bill well. Rather than bloodlust symbolically representing voracious hunger, this is an investigation into the very idea of restraint and denial. But the reason it works so well, is Kohda’s readiness to find humour in the predicament of a woman not quite fitting in with the expectations of today’s society.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cherry (cherryreadsbooks)

    3.75/5 Many many thanks to NetGalley, Claire Kohda, and the folks at Virago Press for the complimentary e-ARC. I can confidently say this is the only other vampire story I've read next to the Twilight saga. And I read that — what — almost 15 years ago? No guesses which one wins. Claire Kohda's novel centres around a mix-raced vampire, Lyd, who is making her way in the contemporary art scene in London. She's squatting in her London studio space with other young artists around her, men are following 3.75/5 Many many thanks to NetGalley, Claire Kohda, and the folks at Virago Press for the complimentary e-ARC. I can confidently say this is the only other vampire story I've read next to the Twilight saga. And I read that — what — almost 15 years ago? No guesses which one wins. Claire Kohda's novel centres around a mix-raced vampire, Lyd, who is making her way in the contemporary art scene in London. She's squatting in her London studio space with other young artists around her, men are following her in the night, the owner of the gallery she's interning at is creepy AF, and she's also pretty hungry. Woman, Eating is a highly creative piece of work. A vampire *and* all that intersectionality? If you'd ask me a few days ago I would've found it hard to believe these two things could ever go together. Yet, Kohda makes it work. Lyd's existence as a vampire causes her to live on the margins in a world that she so desperately wants to inhabit. She has to learn to cut ties with people, how to get blood on her own now that her mum is ill, and deal with all the struggles that comes with wanting to get in on the arts scene. Being female doesn't make any of these easier. There are a few men around her who may be prime candidates for a meal, especially those creeps, but it's not like she can just off them any time she likes. I liked reading about her struggle with her past and her conflicted feelings towards her ageing mum. I feel like that's something we can all relate to as we grow older and learn that our lives and the people we love aren't perfect. I do wish the author would've closed some of the gaps with Lyd's mum and Ye-Ye. It would've made the narrative a bit more cohesive. Otherwise, a promising debut from Claire Kohda.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Monica | San Fran Literary Gal

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5. A modern and ambitious debut that is much more extended metaphor than millennial vampire tale (although it’s a little bit that, too). A huge thank you to @netgalley, @harperviabooks and @clairekohda for a complimentary advance review copy. All thoughts are my own. Lydia is hungry… To make it in the London contemporary art world. To achieve balance between the two halves of herself that are in constant struggle. To belong. And, quite literally, for blood. Written at the beginning o ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5. A modern and ambitious debut that is much more extended metaphor than millennial vampire tale (although it’s a little bit that, too). A huge thank you to @netgalley, @harperviabooks and @clairekohda for a complimentary advance review copy. All thoughts are my own. Lydia is hungry… To make it in the London contemporary art world. To achieve balance between the two halves of herself that are in constant struggle. To belong. And, quite literally, for blood. Written at the beginning of Covid when violence against Asians was becoming distressingly common (metaphor hint: people were treating them like monsters), Kohda gives us a superbly written, sharp yet delicate debut novel that I can’t stop thinking about. To be clear, this book is NOT: A thriller Horror Twilight Buffy This book IS: Literary fiction Extended metaphor A intersectional examination of what it means to be mixed-heritage and female (and human) A rumination on loneliness, power, and what truly satiates us If this sounds a little weird, well it is! But in the best possible way! I loved it. I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest… PS – when was the last time you chose a book primarily based on its cover (a foolproof plan if there ever was one) and discovered a five star book inside?!!

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