The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, by Vendela Vida, is a study in identity—how we construct it, how we prove it, and how we change it. Written in second person, Vida tells the story as if you are the female protagonist (“You call to cancel your bank card”) whose personal documents, including passport and wallet are stolen in Casablanca. This gives the reader a sense of personal stake in the outcome. It helps us feel her panic and frustration and perhaps understand her logic as she attempts to regain control of her situation.
Vida’s character is suspicious, but as her true story is revealed, readers may better understand her perspective. She weaves fairly unbelievable conspiracy theories which in her mind support the creation of alternate identities. For example, when the police return a black backpack to her, similar to the one stolen from her, she senses that they are attempting to close the matter through a tacit agreement that she would take what was offered. And she does, including the identity of the woman whose backpack she now possesses, at least for the time being. Legal documents, physical appearance, the trappings of a career all lend themselves to creating her multiple identities while she struggles with recreating her own concept of who she is and how to move forward with her life.
The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty is an entertaining read and a thought-provoking story about identity—legal, constructed, and imagined. It was published by Harper Collins in 2015.