Mona Awad at the Cambridge Public Library
in conversation with LAURA ZIGMAN
September 11, 2023
6:00 PM ET
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Book Store welcomes MONA AWAD—acclaimed author of the books All’s Well and Bunny—for a discussion of her latest novel Rouge. She will be joined in conversation by LAURA ZIGMAN—author of Separation Anxiety and Small World.
RSVP for free to this event or choose the "Book-Included" ticket to reserve a copy of MONA AWAD'S Rouge and pick it up at the event.
For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Méduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror—and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.
Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humor and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry—as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze. Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, Rouge holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.
Praise for Rouge
“At a time in history when beauty routines drain souls and time, Mona Awad has fashioned a smart, page-turning mystery about a young woman besotted by all things skincare. In elegant prose, Rouge digs through the tormented love that can both bind and estrange a mother and her daughter, and a body from a deeper self. Awad is one of those literary juggernauts to read every word of. Rouge is a triumph, deep and riveting, profound and terrifying. I couldn’t put it down.” —Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liar’s Club and Cherry
"Rouge is a fever dream—a brilliant, intense, unforgettable horror story about a beauty cult with a deeply moving mother-daughter story at its core. Mona Awad’s signature and singular imagination and black humor and empathy are on full display here, and her wild-ride of a tale is masterfully grounded in the emotional devastation of childhood and grief. I loved every word of this." —Laura Zigman, author of Small World
"There is nobody else like Mona Awad, daring enough to plunge her hands—rings and all—into the viscera of story and discover an unsettling beauty within. Rouge is her most magnetic work yet, a thrilling dystopian romp that knows that beneath the glossy, aspirational veneer of self-care lurks the same old gothic abyss." —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
"A brilliant, biting critique of western beauty standards as well as a soaring, phantasmagoric, Angela Carter-esque fairy tale about trauma and the loss of self. Rouge is deeply unsettling, funny, obsessive, and unlike anything I've read. A truly mesmerizing read." —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
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