A novel reminiscent of the works of Herman Koch and Rachel Cusk, in which a lesbian couple attempts to escape the secrets of their pasts.
"A slow-burning examination of identity, gender, desire, and immigration...Mootoo's subtle, thought-provoking tale stands out among stories of characters gripped by the past."
"Compellingly charts the complexity of human relationships, the illusions of memory, and the corrosive power of denial."
"Polar Vortex is a powerful, fraught, and inventive exploration of the impossibility of ever really knowing the people we come to love. Told in urgent, incandescent prose and effortlessly spinning in and out of time, the book is an intimate and starkly honest examination of the complexities of sexual identity, lust, shame, regret, and how we, no matter where we come from or how we identify, are at our most complicated when it comes to the whims and failings of the human heart."
--Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder
"How to know the shifting pieces of ourselves, how to acknowledge contradictory desires, as we are pulled into the maelstrom of desire and memory? Shani Mootoo's intimate new novel suspends us in the vortex between acts of betrayal and acts of love. It is a powerfully unsettling work from a brilliant artist."
--Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
"The past isn't even past--and the present is tense with conflicting desires and untold stories. What brings clarity to this setting is Shani Mootoo's limpid prose, clean and bracing. Polar Vortex is an honest, but also moving, exploration of true intimacy."
--Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana
"What a gorgeous and thrilling novel. Beautifully crafted, with perfect form and icy-clear tone--Shani Mootoo held me under her spell until the shock and release of the last page "
--Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light
Polar Vortex is a seductive and tension-filled novel about Priya and Alex, a lesbian couple who left the big city to relocate to a bucolic countryside community. It seemed like a good way to leave their past behind and cement their newish, later-in-life relationship. But there's leaving the past behind--and then there's running away from awkward histories.
Priya has a secret--a long-standing, on-again, off-again relationship with a man, Prakash. In Priya's mind Prakash is little more than an old friend, but in reality things are a bit complicated. Why has she never told Alex about him? Prakash has tracked Priya down in her new life, and before she realizes what she's doing, she invites him to visit.
Alex is not pleased, and soon the existing cracks in their relationship widen, revealing secrets Alex herself would have preferred to keep. Into the fissure walks Prakash, whose own agenda forces all three to face the inevitable consequences of their choices.