Nani Power

Manny is feeling randy
The book jacket informs us, in the kind of bio all publicists dream
of, that before she wrote this, her debut novel, Nani Power was a
caterer in Manhattan, a sandwich seller on the beaches of Rio de
Janeiro, a chef in a Japanese restaurant, and a nanny to a family
living in a trailer. All of these experiences seem relevant when taking
into account Crawling At Night but one title is missing; sensualist.

Two discordant protagonists paint the narrative alive in this
nihilistic and self-destructive tale of loss and decay. Ito is a
Japanese sushi chef with a dark past who runs to New York City to
escape his demons, but, as Walden once said, “you cannot run from your
past. Wherever you may go, the giant goes with you.” Mariane is a
raging alcoholic with a similar attachment to her past failings who
loses her job when her boss attempts, and fails, to rape her. Ito
discovers that he cannot save Mariane from herself, and her past, where
she longs to reclaim the daughter she gave up, and therefore he cannot
forgive himself for abandoning his violent son.

Told largely in flashbacks blended with the present bitterness, Crawling At Night
seethes with sexuality and desire, utilizing it as a means of temporary
escape until reality comes crashing back in. Unfortunately, without the
sex, and the naked woman on the cover, this story would have lost me in
the first five pages. I particularly enjoyed the passages where Ito
recalls his time in Japan spent in a whorehouse where he fell in love
with a girl named Xiu-xiu while his wife was being eaten alive by
cancer at home alone. It was there that I found Nani’s real power
coming through, in the subtle sifting of sex and death, which is what,
at its core, all great literature is about.