In unflinching prose, Chadburn weaves a story of haunted mercy, of bitter dysfunction, of the complicated and contradictory relationship between cruelty and desire that bristles under the skin of humanity.
This is a difficult, breathtaking book that holds up a mirror to the tragedy of existence and demands we look.”
This “addictive and headlong” (Lauren Groff) debut novel traces the too-short life of a woman cast out by society and transformed by death into an agent of justice—or mercy.
Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.
Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories—an aswang, a creature of mystery and vengeance. She spent her time on earth on the margins; shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, she was a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance, understanding very little of her own life, let alone the lives of others. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known—even her killer—as she accesses their memories and sees anew the meaning of her own. In her nine days as an aswang, while she considers whether to exact vengeance on her killer, she also traces back, finally able to see what led these two lost souls to a crushingly inevitable conclusion.
In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s castoffs as they make their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, full of cruelty and negligence, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?