A Finnish novel on the dark side of the beauty business

News

Norma. By Sofi Oksanen. Translated by Owen Witesman.Knopf; 306 pages; $26.95. Atlantic Books; £12.99.

LOOK at a female celebrity’s head and you will often see a product of the world’s fastest-growing yet least-regulated businesses. The traffic in human hair for use as extensions had its traditional headquarters in India and China. Its spread to South-East Asia and, above all, Ukraine fuels the latest novel by Sofi Oksanen, a Finnish author. In previous novels, notably the award-winning “Purge”, Ms Oksanen linked the oppression of her mother’s Estonian homeland by both Soviet and Nazi occupiers to the cross-border exploitation of women today. In “Norma”, the commerce in hair shorn from poor women to beautify their wealthier sisters propels a many-stranded thriller. It also threads the surrogate-pregnancy industry and “rent-a-womb tourism” into its dense weave.

Norma, a lonesome heroine with locks that lengthen at a supernatural speed, has just lost her mother—the “born…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico

News
Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

News
Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

News
Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …