Guernica Magazine

The Tangled World of Bodies

Danya Kukafka’s debut novel brings new depth to the tropes of the thriller

Danya Kukafka begins her debut novel, Girl in Snow, by asking her readers to look at a dead female body. Despite how it sounds, it’s actually common, our societal default, to view a female primarily as a physical object, to neglect her humanness and see instead “her shoulder blades and how they framed her naked spine, like a pair of static lungs,” as one of the novel’s narrators says of the fifteen-year-old Lucinda Hayes. Kukafka attempts to subvert preconceptions, principally of what is expected of the thriller genre, but succeeds more pointedly in destabilizing the biases toward illegal immigration, mental illness, law enforcement, and presentations of sexuality sewn into our country’s fabric.

The novel begins on a well-trodden path: a beautiful young woman dies, and it is our

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