April 7, 2018

It’s always a good sign when you miss a book once it’s gone, and I wished I could have stayed inside this one a little longer. Never has the word ‘heartwarming’ been more appropriate.

Set during WW2, Emmeline Lake is disappointed to find her new journalistic job isn’t as a chipper reporter, working up to War Correspondent; but as an admin assistant to the women’s advice columnist, Henrietta Bird, who dismisses nearly every genuine problem as “unpleasantness.”

I found the homely style a little awkward at first — was everyone really so ‘jolly upbeat’ in WW2? Isn’t it a little patronising? But I soon realised that getting beneath the veneer of putting on a good show and whatnot is really the heart of the book, and it’s actually very sweetly done.

It’s a gentle and moving book that celebrates female friendship and good-heartedness, while reminding us to be grateful for the everyday.

October 30, 2017

Buzz: Published on Galley Beggar Press, which has a stunning record of picking prize winners, including Eimear McBride's A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing.

We that are young is ambitious. So very ambitious, and so very good.

Most strikingly it’s a thorough and impressive academic exercise, but it’s also a great story, engrossingly told, a refreshing study of female sexuality and the male perception of it, and a Trainspotting-esque seminal moment in literature for young, wealthy Indians. And that’s not even mentioning the writing - which, by the way, is shockingly good.

This is a novel to spend a good amount of time with. It’s long already, before you factor in each sentence deserving to be poured over again and again. Every phrase works overtime, doing at least three jobs at once. The opening image is not only arresting - the sight of London from a plane - it also offers a decisive opening...

October 3, 2017

Full disclosure: I love Nicole Krauss. I have a history with her. It started when I randomly bought The History of Love on the way to live in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, only to realise later that part of the novel is set there. My husband and I have bonded over her. My daughter is named after one of her characters. I am evangelical about her work in the most annoying of ways. I came to this book open, ready and determined to love it. I did not. 

I had also assumed this review would centre around around the inevitable comparisons to Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest tome Here I Am. As her ex-husband’s work –– about a pre-divorce Brooklynite coming to terms with his life, broken relationships, his understanding of Judaism and connection to Israel –– bears a certain resemblance to this book (about a pre-divorce Brooklynite coming to terms with her life, broken relationships, her understandi...

March 3, 2017

Buzz: Man Booker Prize 2017 shortlisted. Picked among 2017's most anticipated books by The Guardian, New York Times, Buzz Feed and more.

Exit West is an intriguing book. On the thinnest skin of surface it’s a love story, set against the backdrop of a refugee crisis. But barely any scratching is needed to reveal what lies beneath: - something that feels more like a parable, or philosophical text, than a novel, asking complex questions about displacement, migration and the resolution of the global tensions they cause.

The success of this book lies in how well that surface layer manages to humanise the refugee experience, to make the issues below seem truly personal. And it does it in the strangest way. Rather than showing the inhuman suffering of the character’s real-life counterparts, Hamid almost strips them of it, both through a distant narratorial style and an unusual plot device. A litt...

January 25, 2017

The buzz:

A New York Times 2016 Notable Book

Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Book of the Year

A Slate Top Ten Book

New York Time Bestseller

Nathan Hill compared to John Irving, John Irving compares him to Dickens.

Etc...

No book could be simultaneously more timely and more timeless than this future classic. The Nix is fun, joyous, exciting and tender; full of both the outrage, anger and giddy momentum of political change and subtle layers of sympathy for the characters at the heart of it.

It is inescapably apt that The Nix reaches UK shores the very same week we watch aghast as President Trump celebrates his inauguration. The novel opens with the scene of a Trump-esque Presidential candidate getting hit with a handful of gravel thrown by an angry middle-aged women. How many people worldwide would like to throw some gravel right now?

Protest is at the centre of The Nix. After the gravel incident, the wo...

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