A novel reminiscent of the works of Herman Koch and Rachel Cusk, in which a lesbian couple attempts to escape the secrets of their pasts.
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize!
“Shani Mootoo is one of the towering lesbian novelists of our time…Polar Vortex [is] a jewel in an already extraordinary creative life. Mootoo’s powerful capacity capture of people and their inner vulnerabilities and longings in her novels make them compelling reads.”
“With grace and dexterity, Polar Vortex maps the interiority of middle age lesbians and the complex and fraught intimate dances of couples…Here is a writer at the full height of her power asking vital, important questions rendered beautifully through character, setting, and plot. Here is a writer demonstrating with passion and power the importance of art to understanding the world. What pleasure!”
“A tantalizing mix of psychological thriller and literary fiction…Mootoo brilliantly explores white discourse about queer sexuality and identity, refugee experiences, the triple effects of sexism, racism, and homophobia on queer women of color, and more.”
—Autostraddle, included in 65 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Fall 2020
“A suspenseful story of desire, secrets, and an unexpected love triangle.”
—Trinidad & Tobago Express
“The story is tense and on every page tension rises. Yet even while sitting on the edge of my chair, I could not stop reading. In fact, I am still thinking about what I read a week later. Mootoo mixes two genres–psychological thriller and literary fiction–as she delves into the nature of queer sexuality and identity, immigrant experiences and the results of sexism, racism, and homophobia on LGBT women of color.”
—Reviews by Amos Lassen
One of the Bay Area Reporter‘s Fantastic Fiction picks
“A slow-burning examination of identity, gender, desire, and immigration…Mootoo’s subtle, thought-provoking tale stands out among stories of characters gripped by the past.”
“Compellingly charts the complexity of human relationships, the illusions of memory, and the corrosive power of denial.”
Polar Vortex is a seductive and tension-filled novel about Priya and Alex, a lesbian couple who left the big city to relocate to a bucolic countryside community. It seemed like a good way to leave their past behind and cement their newish, later-in-life relationship. But there’s leaving the past behind–and then there’s running away from awkward histories.
Priya has a secret–a long-standing, on-again, off-again relationship with a man, Prakash. In Priya’s mind Prakash is little more than an old friend, but in reality things are a bit complicated. Why has she never told Alex about him? Prakash has tracked Priya down in her new life, and before she realizes what she’s doing, she invites him to visit.
Alex is not pleased, and soon the existing cracks in their relationship widen, revealing secrets Alex herself would have preferred to keep. Into the fissure walks Prakash, whose own agenda forces all three to face the inevitable consequences of their choices.