Build Your House Around My Body

Pages: 400
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

Build Your House Around My Body

'Loved this epic book – beautiful, brilliant, powerful' – Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe

Violet Kupersmith

Feverishly energetic and playfully creepy, an unforgettable debut that hurtles through the ghostly secrets of Vietnamese history
9780861542147 (3 Mar 2022)
RRP £8.99
9780861540990 (8 Jul 2021)
RRP £16.99

The Book


'Fiction as daring and accomplished as Violet Kupersmith's first novel reignites my love of the form and its kaleidoscopic possibilities' - David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

Shortlisted for the 2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

A summer reading pick for Kirkus Reviews, PopSugar & USA Today

Two young Vietnamese women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

1986: The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father, and is forever changed by the experience. 

2011: Twenty-five years later, a young, unhappy Vietnamese-American named Winnie disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace.

The fates of both women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Barrelling through the sweaty nightclubs of Saigon to ramshackle zoos, colonial mansions and haunted forests, Violet Kupersmith's heart-pounding fever dream of a novel deftly combines Vietnamese history and folklore to create an immersive, playful, utterly unforgettable debut. 

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 400
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Violet Kupersmith is the author of the short story collection The Frangipani Hotel. She previously taught English with the Fulbright programme in the Mekong Delta, and was a creative writing fellow at the University of East Anglia. She has lived in Da Lat and Saigon, and currently resides in the United States.


'A fantastic debut... A wonderfully ambitious novel about death, snakes and female revenge...recounted with a rich, hypnotic lyricism.'

- The Sunday Times

'Loved this epic book - beautiful, brilliant, powerful, and shivery-back-of-the-neck terrifying.'

- Madeline Miller, author of Circe

'A marvellous, confounding debut that moves from eerie Vietnamese forests to rundown zoos and crowded nightclubs… Kupersmith has been compared to David Mitchell for her novel's time-hopping characters and sweeping ambition. However, with its seam of delightfully lurid feminist body horror, the novel more closely recalls the fabulist world of Kelly Link, Intan Paramaditha and Mariana Enríquez… A hugely impressive debut.'

- Guardian

'What a joy to return to the numinously spooky world of [Violet] Kupersmith and find the ghosts of history and family still haunting her pages. This impressively constructed weave of stories is gorgeous, completely original, and quite disturbing, usually all three at the same time. Beware! This book might swallow you up.'

- Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

'A book a bit like the creatures within. It has fangs and claws. It horrifies and charms. It is the sort of book you force on your friends, just so you can talk to them about it.'

- Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days

'Violet Kupersmith's Build Your House Around My Body weaves together Vietnamese folklore and ghosts into a visceral and brilliant read.'

- Stylist

'A satisfying story of possession and revenge... Kupersmith, who also wrote the short-story collection The Frangipani Hotel, delves deep into Vietnamese folklore and history... There is no shortage of nuanced story lines that delve into the strange or the spooky in this book... Kupersmith's knack for drawing readers into the fantastical is readily apparent, as is her ability to deftly navigate the subtleties of a country's complicated history, rife with violence and generational trauma in the wake of French colonisation.'

- Time Magazine

'A wide-ranging first novel that peels back the layers of a haunted Vietnam... Drawing from genres as diverse as horror, humour and historical fiction, Kupersmith creates a rich and dazzling spectacle.'

- Kirkus (starred review)

'Creepy, exciting, moving, insanely funny: a sweat-soaked reading delight. Careering through a host of snaking lives, eras, and beautifully drawn locations in Vietnam, Build Your House Around My Body is mesmerising. An absolute triumph of storytelling.'

- Nick Bradley, author of The Cat and the City

'A heady, gothic spellbinder of a book.'

- Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

'Dazzling... I had the sense that Violet Kupersmith's eerie and electric debut novel was spreading beyond the bounds of the page and seeping into my life. That is this novel's power: It followed me into my days, refusing to release me... A thrilling read, acrobatic and filled with verve... Kupersmith is a brilliant technician of the small moment, the just-right observation. Her sensory language is at once bold and perfectly precise.'

- New York Times

'Fiction as daring and accomplished as Violet Kupersmith's first novel reignites my love of the form and its kaleidoscopic possibilities.' 

- David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

'Build Your House Around My Body is such an innovative, brilliant, haunting and compelling read.'

- Nguyen Phan Que Mai, author of The Mountains Sing

'Violet Kupersmith has elevated the ghost story into an art form. Her intricately plotted, flamboyantly original novel is by turns steamy, grisly, comic, horrific, and touching. This literally haunting tale will stay with you long after the last page is turned.'

- Valerie Martin, author of Property and I Give it to You

'A brilliant, sweeping epic that swaps spirits and sheds time like snakeskin, Build Your House Around My Body is a marvel. Thrilling, witty, disturbing, righteous - I won't be able to shut up about how damned awesome this book is. Neither will you.' 

- Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts

'This lush, sultry phantasmagoria of a novel is as playful, hypnotic, and bone-chilling as a cobra rising to strike.'

- Elisabeth Thomas, author of Catherine House

'Kupersmith's exceptional debut novel (after the collection The Frangipani Hotel) offers profound and original insight on Vietnam's tortured history... Horrifying and hilarious by turns...marvelously written.' 

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

'Kupersmith combines elements of horror, mystery, and historical and literary fiction to create a strange and wondrous story… [She] expertly ties characters together through plot and recurring talismans - snakes, a dog, a lottery ticket, a policeman's hat - and magically manages to create a story both epic and intensely intimate. Patient and observant readers will be richly rewarded.'

- Booklist (starred review)

'A haunting and unforgettable work.'

- Bust Magazine

'Kupersmith's assured a labyrinthine, shape-shifting novel, deep in magical realism territory. It is greatly to the author's credit that she makes this work and fully engages the reader's interest... Reminiscent of Günter Grass's The Tin Drum and Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. It is a measure of Violet Kupersmith's achievement that Build Your House Around My Body can stand proudly in such exalted company.'

- New Internationalist

'Kaleidoscopic… It would have been easy for a book with so much going on to collapse into incoherence, but it's an engaging read the whole way through. Build Your House Around My Body is an unsettling and powerful work.'

- Bookpage

'Vietnamese folklore is at the heart of this dazzling debut novel from Violet Kupersmith... It's difficult to summarise the intricate nature of Build Your House Around My Body, with its many witty and deft observations. Weaving together spirits and secrets with complex characters proved to be a successful combination in this immersive, atmospheric tale.'

- Buzz Magazine

'Thrilling and chilling... Build Your House Around My Body is an engaging story set against a detailed look at contemporary Vietnamese culture and how that has been shaped, for better or worse, by influences going back to French colonial times.'

- Asian Review of Books

'Kupersmith weaves together these two missing women across time and space in this twisting, haunting tale.'

- Straits Times, Singapore

'Beguiling… Kupersmith is a gifted writer, and each chapter here has the finely tuned workings of a short story, each turn always propels the reader forwards… Who knows where her impressive imagination may take us next.'

- Litro Magazine