Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Pink Institution by Selah Saterstrom


Beautiful and violent, spare and ominous, this wholly original novel explodes mythologies of Southern femininity.  In a multigenerational family saga that captures the rich beauty and passionate despair of the land and its inhabitants, The Pink Institution is a riveting, visceral novel written in a style that elegantly unites poetic prose with historic photographs and texts. It is also a testament to the legacy that war, violence, abuse, and poverty have wrought upon the Deep South. As we follow four generations of determined and relentless Mississippi women from their run-down, post-Civil War plantations to their modern-day trailer parks, the impoverished decay of the Deep South expresses itself through their bloodlines in a haunting reenactment of the past.


The Pink Institution by Selah Saterstrom is a modern novel about the peculiarities of the men and women in a southern family, beginning in the Deep South of Civil War Mississippi and journeying through to modern times. It has an unusual cover and unconventional layout, and that is actually the most positive aspect I found about this book. Saterstrom writes as if she has a bad taste in her mouth, so to speak; one from past experiences she has not yet swallowed. The story seems deliberately strained with an overload of sensory incertitude and mental confusion. Saterstrom has essentially no character development and her story lacks cohesiveness. The most valuable sentence in the entire book for me was her description of her grandfather after he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head: “What is difficult about looking at something like that is not that the mind resists fragmentation in general, but that it is confounded by textures which refuse the tensions one desires through edges.” Although not well-stated, I understood what she was trying to say, and at least it was somewhat thought-provoking. I cannot recommend this book as a good read—it just did not work for me.

Length:  140 Pages
Print:  $15.00

Thanks for visiting. Rose & Rochelle

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