The Sin-Eaters

On the islands of the Five Crescents, seventeen-year-old Kaira is as feared as the cannibalistic oni demons or the tricky shape-shifting foxes. The birthmark on her collarbone identifies her as a Sin-Eater: a scapegoat, fated to atone for her community’s sins through annual rituals. But when her insular fishing village faces calamity– economic, environmental, political– the elders decide that her sacrifice can no longer be symbolic. The Sin-Eater, they declare, must burn.

The Sin-Eaters tells her story (and the stories of the women in her family) against a mythical island landscape based on the legends and folklore of 19th century Japan.

Of my work, the Chicago Reader writes:

Lin’s larger ongoing project, a parabolic novel populated with Japanese folklore, responds to what happened to her family during World War II. “People wonder why I’m so obsessed with mythology, since they’re just made-up stories from long ago,” Lin said. “But myths are a reflection of a society’s fears, and myths are prevalent today. Look at our ‘postfactual’ society, filled with all this fake news. What is fake news? Myths! We’re doing the exact same thing: creating stories to demonize people who are different, to prey on fear.”