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A razor-sharp ‘whydunnit’ about a traumatized woman

Raw and As If

Valerie Tack

A young woman murders the man with whom she’s been having an affair for some time. He always called her Bird. How could she have got to the point of killing him, and mutilating him with a knife? In her highly praised debut, Valerie Tack takes us with her into Bird’s past. Along with her parents and brother, she lives on a farm that is run with an iron fist by her alcoholic and violent father, who calls her his ‘devil’s child’. Unlike her mother and brother, however, Bird manages to escape. She seems to succeed in starting a new life as a teacher in the capital city.

But even in the city she is unable to shake off her past. She enters into a string of amorous adventures with men and women, in which she proves herself pitiless. She keeps tight hold of the reins of every encounter and also directs the parting, which she marks by stealing a cup from her new conquest. When she meets a barman, who turns out to be a talented painter in a steady relationship, she finds herself unable to escape his power games. For the first time the roles are reversed and she has to follow him. The knife she always carries with her gradually becomes her only way out.

‘Raw and As If’ long clings to your skin ****
Het Nieuwsblad

‘Raw and As If’ has been praised for its original and clever structure. The disturbed chronological logic challenges the reader to make connections. Tack’s unemotional style builds the tension and sustains the dark world and psyche of the narrator. She opts for an original female central character, who with her intelligent and cynical voice creates an oppressive atmosphere. ‘Raw and As If’ is not just a gripping ‘whydunnit’ but an expressively written psychological story about the consequences of a loveless childhood.

Tragic, funny, addictively ingenious ****
Focus Knack
Cast-iron, relatable debut