Tuesday 5 September 2023

Book Review: Harlequin Butterfly by Enjoe Toh (Literary Fiction)

Title: Harlequin Butterfly
Author: Enjoe Toh
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication Date: 5 March 2024
Pages: 160
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via Edelweiss

This dizzying, witty literary caper about books and translation is a delightful work that will captivate and surprise readers, and not just because it features Vladimir Nabokov as a character.

An affluent entrepreneur named A.A. Abrams sinks seemingly infinite resources into the global pursuit of a writer about whom very little is known. Abrams’ target, known as “Tomoyuki Tomoyuki,” moves from one place to another, producing work in the local language before moving on to another part of the world.

But how does Tomoyuki Tomoyuki move from one language to the next with such ease? Agents employed by the Abrams Institute attempt to make sense of the writer’s erratic movements and baffling writing habits, but come to find that within each puzzle is yet another puzzle, waiting to be unraveled.


I went into Harlequin Butterfly expecting a certain dream-like quality. However, after two nights reading it cover to cover, I was left wondering exactly what I had read and what it was about. Sure, it was sort of a treatise on languages and literature, and the idea of a rich person chasing an elusive, every-moving author came across easily enough, but as for finishing the book with a concrete idea about what the author was trying to say... well, on that front I have to admit defeat. I am giving this book 3.5 stars. There were moments I liked and it was an interesting idea and presentation, but I think it's going to be too abstract and strange for many general readers. I am sure a lot of people will be left baffled by it.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

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