This review is not going to do justice to this book. This book needs a proper, more insightful one than these notes I’m writing. Because it’s the kind of book that makes you go, wow, this is a writer who can write. This is a writer whose words can move mountains, make tea go cold without noticing, tears fall from unsuspecting eyes. This is a writer whom, I imagine, writers look up to, but also are perhaps afraid, wondering, can I write like this too?
For Alexander Chee has taken a subject that is ugly and perverse and has sculpted it into something moving and somehow, beautiful.
(Autocorrect keeps changing my “moving” into “loving” but really, loving is an equally suitable word for this book.)
A young boy joins a boys’ choir. Aphias or Fee is 12 and Korean-Scottish. He may look a bit different from the other boys but like them, he is sexually abused by the choir director.
Edinburgh is the story of how he overcomes this childhood trauma and the loss of those he loves.
It is no easy read but it is haunting and spectacular, even more so when I realized this was his debut novel. It may seem like a weird juxtaposition but this book was both beautiful and brutal.