Books

Ripe review: A dread-filled indictment of capitalism

Sarah Rose Etter's latest novel is a work of astonishing horror that contains the multitudes of capitalist society

The cover of Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter features an image of a halved pomegranate

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter is out on 15 August (Oldcastle, £8.99)

It’s safe to say that the onslaught of Barbenheimer marketing has seeped into our collective minds. Anyone seen in pink must be heading to the cinema for Barbie, anyone in black must be en route to Oppenheimer. And while not everything is Barbenheimer-coded, Sarah Rose Etter’s Ripe, with main character Cassie’s fascination with black holes, certainly reflects on life and death in much the same way.

Etter, whose first novel The Book of X featured a woman with a knot in her stomach, has always been one for literal depictions. Her latest follows Cassie, whose vision is perpetually afflicted by a black hole, a metaphor of the generational trauma she’s inherited from her vitriolic mother. 

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Ripe despite its title, dwells mainly on the rot of society. Cassie works long hours at a start-up that tries to consume her entire identity. 

Between the toxic work culture, soaring rental prices in San Francisco, and the desperate acts of violence that Cassie witnesses, there is little respite.

The terror of the mundane consumes all. It is truly a work of astonishing horror that contains the multitudes of capitalist society and will leave its readers racked with existential dread, unintentionally in keeping with the theme of the summer.

Billie Walker is a freelance journalist 

Ripe book cover

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter is out on 15 August (Oldcastle, £8.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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