Fragile Monsters
Catherine Menon

Book cover image

Narrated By: Indira Varma

Duration: 9 hours and 22 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

A SPELLBINDING DEBUT NOVEL SET BETWEEN WW2 AND CONTEMPORARY MALAYSIA

Mary is a difficult grandmother for Durga to love. She is sharp-tongued and ferocious, with more demons than there are lines on her palms. When Durga visits her in rural Malaysia, she only wants to endure Mary, and the dark memories home brings, for as long as it takes to escape.

But a reckoning is coming. Stuck together in the rising heat, both women must untangle the truth from the myth of their family's past. What happened to Durga's mother after she gave birth? Why did so many of their family members disappear during the war? And who is to blame for the childhood tragedy that haunts her to this day?

In her stunning debut novel Catherine Menon traces one family's story from 1920 to the present, unravelling a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and redemption against the backdrop of natural disasters and fallen empires. Written in vivid technicolour, with an electric daughter-grandmother relationship at its heart, Fragile Monsters explores what happens when secrets fester through the generations.

As they will learn, in a place ravaged by floods, it is only a matter of time before the bones of the past emerge.

'Supple, artful, skilful storytelling - it takes an immediate grip on the reader's imagination and doesn't let go' HILARY MANTEL

'A brilliant novel about homecoming and the layered, unstable past that haunts and hurts . . . I admire it enormously'
Colm Tóibín

© Catherine Menon 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Genre

Fiction: general and literary, Historical fiction, Family life fiction, Generational sagas, Narrative theme: Sense of place

Listen to a sample

Menon is a sparky storyteller whose thickly atmospheric debut keeps us guessing as its many ghosts press in ever closer

Daily Mail

Spellbinding

Tatler Malaysia

Fragile Monsters, set over 60 years in Malaysia, wears its slipperiness on its sleeve, stories and fairytales and lies colliding as a woman tries to pick apart where she comes from . . . an impressive debut, atmospheric and unsettling

Sunday Telegraph, 5 stars

A beautiful, richly textured absorbing read. I was utterly transported

Irenosen Okojie

A brilliant novel about homecoming and the layered, unstable past that haunts and hurts . . . I admire it enormously

Colm Tóibín

A beautifully written story of one Indian Malaysian family's history, entwined with secrets and hidden heartbreak . . . Fragile Monsters is a story of homecoming which illustrates the tension of returning to a past which remains painfully present . . . a cleverly-crafted family saga which explores themes of truth, belonging and shame across multiple generations

Asian Review of Books

Supple, artful, skilful storytelling - it takes an immediate grip on the reader's imagination and doesn't let go

Hilary Mantel

A propulsive debut scattered with gems of fresh and surprising imagery. Menon is at her best exploring the intricate bond between women over generations, their histories strung tight over the fraught realities of a nation coming into being

Preti Taneja

A story about love, betrayal and redemption with an electric daughter-grandmother relationship at its heart

Sheer Luxe, reading recommendation

Always here for a cross-generational family story, especially one that involves moral ambivalence

Marian Keyes selection for her PageTurners top reads

A rich and moving family history takes shape, filled with love and heartache, guilt and grief, and no end of secrets and lies . . . Gripping, compelling . . . Menon's story shows that, though time flows on, history's waves still ripple decades downstream

Economist

Leavened with a brisk, dry humour, Fragile Monsters is as propulsive as any mystery, with a bewitching sense of place . . . an accomplished feat of multi-stranded storytelling