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Thistle

£12.99 | Nadia de Vries, Translated by Sarah Timmer -Harvey | Summer 2024 | English | paperback | e-book |

Novel| 230 p | ISBN 9789083384146

Thistle is a young woman whose father, a pilot, dies suddenly in a plane crash when she is thirteen years old. The airline’s compensation payout is substantial but doesn’t assuage the family’s grief. By the time she is seventeen, Thistle has lost most of her teenage years trying to make sense of her father’s premature death. In the meantime, her body is developing, and she finds herself sexualized and objectified by men against her will. Teenaged Thistle is increasingly aware of her allure but unsure of how to use that to her advantage. When her mother gifts her a camera, Thistle decides to turn the lens on herself, capturing her nude body in various poses just before she turns eighteen.

At thirty-three, Thistle has built a seemingly carefree life in the city. She lives in an apartment bought with money she inherited from her late father, which covers all her living expenses and small luxuries she permits herself. In playing the “city woman” role she’s assigned herself, Thistle keeps up with the latest trends and spends most of her time pursuing her favourite hobby, photography. But all is not as it seems; Thistle is emotionally stunted, estranged from her sister, and feels disconnected from almost everyone she encounters. The weasels that first appeared to her after her father’s death have returned, and she desperately wants to reclaim the years she lost as a teenager. She’s obsessed with taking pictures of teenagers on the street, but this only exacerbates her frustration. The camera is a barrier in many ways, allowing her to keep her distance from her past and present self.

One day, after surreptitiously photographing a young girl at the park, Thistle remembers the nudes she took of herself when she was underage. Impulsively, Thistle decides to sell the pictures online. Initially, she believes that putting her nudes online will empower her. Instead, it marks the beginning of a psychotic episode and Thistle’s descent into a world where both narrator and reader cannot separate fantasy from reality. Thistle believes a moth to be the reincarnation of her father, feels judged by the weasels who have taken over her apartment, seeks counsel from a tick, and her interactions with other people grow increasingly fraught. After the authorities confiscate her computer, Thistle is taken into custody and must reckon with her past in order to meet her future.

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