The Tattoo Artist

The Tattoo ArtistJill Ciment

Pantheon, 2005
ISBN: 0375423257

Jill Ciment’s writing has been called “luminous . . . sad, affecting” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) and “rich in observation and insight” (Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times).

Now in her new novel, her third, Jill Ciment turns her eye to a painter’s world in the early years of the twentieth century and tells the story of an American woman, an acclaimed artist who’s been stranded on an island for thirty years.

Sara and Philip book passage on a Japanese ship that drops them off on Ta’un’uu, an island famous both for its masks and its full-body tattooing. The ship that was to pick them up never returns, bewilderment turns into panic, then resignation, and, finally, to a peace neither husband nor wife has known before. When the Second World War breaks out months later and Philip and half the men of the island are killed by Japanese soldiers, Sara turns to her painting for salvation. She learns the art of tattooing and begins the painting that will be her masterpiece – the tattooing of her own body.

A beautifully written novel, powerful in its portrayal of the world it creates and the ideas it is taken up with – ideas of immortality through art, and of the here-and-now-ness of life and experience.

moreback to publications