Nigel Krauth

Always Hungry

I was engaged by this MS and didn’t want to put it down – largely because of its disturbing fascination, but also because of the elegance of the writing. Ms Baranay is known for fiction which pushes boundaries, especially in areas of gender and sexuality. Her fine-grain writing examines the minutiae of female relationships, of female feistiness and vulnerability. Always Hungry advances her exploration of gender contrasts into the domains of monstrous sex and the multiply-sexed. All this is done in a provocatively postmodern style – antiseptic and smart. But also, this MS is a vampire novel for intelligent adults, and herein lies its truly disturbing nature. While the history/mythstory of vampirism is well-researched, and forms part of the discourse of the novel, the vampire-sex scenes are themselves delightfully shocking. The reader keeps wanting the vampire theme to be a metaphor of sorts, an allegory for the nature of relationships, of love, of sex-change, or perhaps of how the publishing industry treats writers, but the taste of real blood seeps in, ineluctably. Set mainly in Amsterdam (after New York), with some very evocative scenes on the foggy canals and in the mansions of the idle wealthy, Always Hungry is about successful writer Marisa Steiger being shadowed and tracked by a variety of ‘stalkers’ – her long-term admirer Bette, her rival author Tango, her publisher and agent… and her own (sexual) ambition. In three words: Wicked, intelligent fun.

-Nigel Krauth