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Lives are turned upside down by a bureaucratic error in this Kafkaesque work of neo-absurdism

Formaldehyde is an adorable little book about arm transplants and bureaucracy, two of my favourite topics. The story is a comic, surrealist puzzle about identity. It includes jokes, cats, swear words and some slightly gross bits of anatomical detail. Also, love. It was published by Seizure in August 2015, thanks to winning their Viva la Novella prize.

You can buy Formaldehyde at:

Or if you’re in Melbourne’s western suburbs (and why wouldn’t you be?), stroll over to Yarraville’s Sun Bookshop and pick up a copy there.

And here it is on Goodreads.

The other two winners of Viva la Novella are Christy Collins for The End of Seeing and Marlee Jane Ward for Welcome to Orphancorp. Why not read all three?

Here’s what some famous people had to say about Formaldehyde:

‘Original, intelligent and compelling – a rare combination. Formaldehyde pulls off a complex narrative with frequent time and point-of-view shifts without ever losing the reader. For a novella that borders on the Kafkaesque, it has a good deal of heart. The interconnecting stories are handled adroitly – the clever structure never gets in the way of the writing, which is sharply observed, assured and witty. Smart but never showy. The most original novel I’ve read for some time.’ – Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project)

‘Immerse yourself in Jane Rawson’s Formaldehyde if you like the seriously weird or the creepily wonderful. This story has small but persistent claws; under cover of its smooth, conversational narration you will be clasped and dragged into some tough, strange places. Let it take you there. Let it blow your tiny mind.’ – Margo Lanagan (Sea Hearts)

‘Skipping across different times and genres, Formaldehyde is a wonderfully strange and inventive story of love, loss and severed limbs.’ – Ryan O’Neill (The Weight of a Human Heart)

3 thoughts on “Formaldehyde

  1. My second book for Xmas break. I read Jane’s first previous novel, A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists Xmas 2015 and much enjoyed it. I hope she keeps producing a new book each year. Quirky – each presents as plausible and natural some elements that would not usually pass as realist writing. Both involve a little futurism. I am sucked in by the narrative drive, like the characters and want simply to know what will happen. When she works out how to wrap it all up better she will have a grand novel for us all. This one bounces between 2000 and 2022, each chapter clearly marked for time period, characters gain and lose aspects of themselves.. Hard to describe further just in case you think to find it to read.. Do.

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