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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Girlfriend. Prostitute. Addict. Terrorist? Who is K?

Ultraluminous, the daring new novel from Katherine Faw, the brilliant author of Young God, follows one year in the life of a high-end, girlfriend-experience prostitute. She has just returned to her native New York City after more than a decade abroad—in the capitals of Asia and the Middle East, her last stop Dubai, with a
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by MCD
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robin by: lark benobi
"K" is a beautiful prostitute. A bombshell, you might say.

She started her career in Dubai. After traumatic events there, she retreated to New York. She's so lovely, rich men pay big money to keep her - for the day, for a few weeks, one even had her for a whole year. She's able to afford expensive clothes, an apartment in Manhattan, a personal hygiene routine that involves a talented manicurist and wax lady. She's able to afford bricks of heroin delivered to her door, too.

The story is one of the
lark benobi
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that my brain has settled down a bit, I'm ready to review this novel for real. In some ways my relationship to the story has shifted a lot since I first read it, even though my admiration for it hasn't changed.

Reading Ultraluminous is like being thrown into a tornado of dissonance that resolves in a morally ambiguous and yet somehow completely satisfying way. I imagine it takes quite a lot out of a writer, to write so ruthlessly. It's a disturbing book, and it breaks so many taboos, and part
Jessica Sullivan
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Self-destructive women engaging in explicit drugs, sex, and violence is a niche sub-genre that isn't for everyone, but if you're a fan of these raw and unflinching books, Ultraluminous might be just what you're looking for.

I saw a review calling it American Psycho for women, and I can definitely see the parallels: greed, apathy, nihilism and even descriptions of expensive meals make up a large part of Ultraluminous.

The unnamed narrator is a high-end prostitute who has recently returned to New Yo
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I watch a Romanian movie where nothing happens for probably two hours. Then the guy starts shooting people with a rifle.

Huh. Okay. I just finished this one and I really don't know what to think.

I'm sucking off the art guy and he's being an asshole and not coming so I sit back on my heels for a second and look at Manhattan. Cities are inert and don't have feelings. I am the one with feelings.

The narrator - unnamed, there are no names in this book, everyone has a pseudonym - is so strongly disass
Erin Glover
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ruthless-books
You’ve never read anything like this before in literary fiction. It’s unclear if this novel is pornography or art. It’s probably both.

A high-end prostitute returns to Manhattan from Saudi Arabia where she has been working for at least eight years, probably more like 12 years, beginning when she was 18. We don’t know much about her, other than she has Slavic features, long hair, and was born in 1983. Since she describes contemporary Manhattan, she is probably in her early 30’s.

The protagonist fo
Allison Berryhill
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
I read this strange and disturbing book after reading Alexandra Schwartz's review in the New Yorker. I couldn't put it down, but with a "can't look away" feeling. I won't recommend this book to just anyone, but if you can stand it, read it. It will stay with me for a long time.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
there is just too much semen in this book
Feb 14, 2017 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-netgalley
DNF @ 6%

I read Young God, so I did know what I was getting into by requesting this one. Or at least I thought I did. Ultraluminous is the story of a prostitute named K who makes up a different name for each new guy. No one else in this story has an actual name either. There’s the bodega guy. The art guy. The calf’s brain guy. The guy who buys’s me things. The junk-bond guy. I understand that the character herself named these characters as such as a lack of caring, deeming it unnecessary to know
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A unique structure of brief (very brief) vignettes illustrate the nameless protagonist's daily life in NYC. She's the paid girlfriend of 4 ultra-wealthy finance-type men. She also sees an ex-military dude with a heroin problem. She does more than her share of heroin while effacing herself enough to allow the men she sees to enact all their sexual fantasies. Life is empty since she lost her true love, the man she lived with in the Middle East, a bomb maker. But she's not totally empty. Something ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book in a giveaway in return for a review. Thanks to Farrar Straus and Giroux!
The first 2/3 of the book read like the daily journal of a high class call girl; her hair appointments and manicures, along with snippets of her dates with 5 or 6 “regular” clients who have no real names. They are just “art guy” “calf brains guy” “guy who buys me things,” etc. She’ll let them punch her or break her finger, if the price is right.
Her existence is robotic, her days are meaningless...her LI
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
When I started this book, its form—short segments, most fewer than ten lines—was so appealing and worked so well that it seemed like the kind of choice that is such a good fit that it makes one feel, in the moment, as if all books should adopt it. This feeling stuck with me for only maybe ten pages or so and then faded, but the choice remains the right one for this particular book. If the story were told in anything but bursts, it would lose its curious sense of propulsion—the novel feels as if ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A brutal and necessary seizing and reappropriation of the "damaged woman" trope, the nameless prostitute protagonist of Faw's novel full of nameless people moves from John to John and through a drugged and furious haze in a series of attack vignettes about her sexual activities, her work, her downtime, and her memories. Time loses all significance, and we are in her present feeling like it's the past, or maybe the past never goes away. A refutation of all that is regarded as valuable about owner ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like Katherine Faw. I also liked this book.

No one in this short novel has a real name, including the narrator. Everyone she meets assumes she is Russian, so there are a series of Russian-influenced pseudonyms here (Katya, Karina, Katinka) that substitute for her identity. The narrator works as a prostitute, specializing in high end clients and girlfriend-experience type encounters. On constant rotation are her experiences with such clients such as "the junk bond guy," "the calf's brain guy,"
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like a dark strange fever dream. It was a poetic and intentionally vague and misleading. This book vacillated between being a very sexy and then suddenly repellent book about sex work. Really liked it.
Carlos Diaz
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm going to write this book review in the manner of its narrative: short, choppy and curt sentences. This high-end prostitute who specializes in offering the girlfriend experience is a professional at her craft. She's also a novice terrorist. She fucks very rich men for a lot of money, they pay well to degrade her, and she offers a ruined war veteran some charity by fucking him for free. Don't read transgressive fiction if it grosses you out. It's definitely NOT for everyone. Anyway, as unseeml ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
incredibly dark and disturbing, but I liked it.
Gail M
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Money, power and sex -- an appropriate commentary for these times. Quick read, not great literature, a cautionary tale perhaps.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I was expecting. Nor was it anything that would interest me. The main character, "K" or whoever, was a very disassociated "girlfriend type" prostitute, just going through life, day after day. Where was the intrigue? Most of the book was spent with random snippets about her encounters with her clients. And way too much detail about sex! I never felt any connection or sympathy for "K" and spent most of the book waiting for something to change. Sadly, when it did change, at t ...more
Ben Rosenstock
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Giving this an 'okay' rating, but now that I've finished it, I think I skew a little lower. Let's say 2.75 stars, I guess?

I think overall my issues with this book can be summed up like this: it feels like it's always alternating between being really obvious and predictable and being too cold and distanced, to the point of inscrutability. Very rarely does it hit that sweet spot in the middle, though it happens occasionally - I was struck by the way Katherine Faw occasionally skips over the big mo
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit.
That's what comes to mind when describing this book. I happened upon this book at a little second-hand book store for a dollar. I thought it would be a throw-away read, but wow, I was wrong. I couldn't put this book down.
The way the Katherine Faw has omitted specific details whilst including others is perplexing in the best way possible. The large space between these 2-sentence paragraphs makes the book read like poetry. This eclectic style can be disorienting at times, particularly
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Meet K. New Yorker. Drugstore sushi lover. Heroin-addicted prostitute. With every nihilistic moment she invited you to witness, you found yourself whirling and begging to stay until next day's light.

In Katherine Faw's next book, she painted a picture of a thirty-something woman with rigid patterns: dinners, waxing, snorting Heroin, clubbing, and waxing. Alongside those activities, she serviced her favorite clients - five businessmen known via careers (e.g. "Art Guy") and attributes (e.g. "Guy Wh
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. The vignette structure is an interesting thought, but after a couple chapters it makes the pace slow and then slower. The main character does the same things over and over again, and one never gains an understanding of who she is or any insight into why she does what she does. Remarkably boring for a book with so much sex and violence in it.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Katherine Faw’s Ultraluminous is a gritty, experimental suspense novel that plays with what power and control look like. The narrator is a sex worker who, through a series of vignettes, shares her mundane routines and her interactions with a stable of clients, whom she identifies only by dehumanizing nicknames. Sprinkled throughout are references to her past in Dubai, a man who tried to murder her, and her ex-lover. Who is she, and why is she back in New York? Just as her johns think they know h ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A blast of light and heat. Ultraluminous, if you will.

Faw's style, used so memorably in her debut (Young God), packs a wallop that lands double for its sparseness. With echoes of Glamorama and the last half-decade or so's worth of stark nihilistic film, the novel zips along full of sex and bleak New Yorkness, building towards a conclusion that you know you want to look away from but you can't. And so while the flash blinds you, the afterimage sticks around.
Sarah Etter
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A woman who uses multiple names has sex with a different client each day. At the sentence level, Faw is exciting to see in action - sharp, crisp lines make these laced-together vignettes move quickly until they blur together. The effect is dazzling and could knock the wind out of your chest. Even more admirable is the complicated structure behind the simplicity of the sentences - the precision with which Faw has built the machine of this book is brilliant. It makes me want to write another novel ...more
Jonathan Karmel
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
What’s not to like about this book? A high-end cocaine and heroin-addicted prostitute describes her life and thoughts. I’m kidding. If you dislike prostitution, then there’s a lot not to like about this book, although I don’t think the book is “pro-prostitution” based on the way things turn out in the end.

The unnamed prostitute’s M.O. is to have four clients and a fifth guy who does not pay her and thus could be called her “boyfriend.” In the past when she lived in Dubai, her “boyfriend” was som
Matt Graupman
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Before reading Katherine Faw’s new novel, “Ultraluminous,” I went back and reread my review of her debut, the backwoods-teenage-drug-dealer parable “Young God;” the part that stuck with me was how I hoped her next book had the substance to compliment her flashy style. Well, I guess I’m gonna have to keep waiting and hoping. Hollow, derivative, and high on its own supply (cleverness being the drug in this case), “Ultraluminous” is - I hate to say it - lackluster.

“Ultraluminous” is a chronicle of
John McKenna
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mysterious Book Report No. 326
by John Dwaine McKenna

This weeks MBR is one of those which are unclassifiable . . . it’s hard-boiled, cutting edge, semi-pornographic, unapologetic, compelling and utterly fascinating . . . but don’t say we didn’t warn ya.
Ultraluminous, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25.00, 199 pages, ISBN 978-0-374-27966-0) by Katherine Faw, comes four years after her astonishing and powerful debut, Young God. If Ms. Faw took the literary world by storm with her first on
Matthew Chua
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Katherine Faw's "Ultraluminous" shows how effective syntactic structure can be in affecting the mood and emotionality of a written work, telling a story all on its own independent of the effectiveness of the transcribed narrative.

Admittedly, I have not read Faw's first novel, "Young Gods", so do not know if the way she writes "Ultraluminous" is a representation of a consistent style - but taken solely in the context of how it relates to "Ultraluminous" the structure of the novel displays a progr
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book #37 read in #2019 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out of 5

“Every girl at the gym has a tattoo but very few have fake boobs.”

Ultra luminous by Katherine Faw Morris. this book is violent, gritty, graphic, sexy and nihilistic. Even mildly erotic/pornogrpahic Meant to be shocking it achieves it’s goals while also feeling like a pulp novel of sorts. That is more a character study. Where we follow a woman who is an escort. As we follow her day to day exploits for a year with many regular customers. As we slowly learn
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Katherine Faw, formerly Katherine Faw Morris, is an American writer. Young God, her debut novel, was long-listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and named a best book of the year by The Times Literary Supplement, The Houston Chronicle, and BuzzFeed.

In the Guardian, Eimear McBride wrote Young God was “likely to leave even the sturdiest stunned.” Elle called it “seductive…Reading Young God

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