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Author Ottessa Moshfegh returns to speak to Kate Wolf about her latest novel, Lapvona. The book is set in the eponymous medieval village, a place beset by violence and extreme cruelty. Its ruler is the loutish Villiam, who engineers massacres of Lapvona’s inhabitants whenever dissent grows, and also steals their water during a deadly drought. Villiam’s distant relative, Jude, is a shepherd who beats his son, Marek, and lies about the fate of Marek’s supposedly deceased mother. Marek weathers his father’s abuse through his devotion to God and the soothing of the village wet nurse, Ina, but his piety doesn’t keep him from committing brutal acts of his own. In a fatal twist, he ends up in the care of Villiam, on the hill above the suffering villagers, increasingly complicit in Lapvona’s corruption — a turn of events as germane today as it was a thousand years ago.

Also, Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or, returns to recommend Nino Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin.