December 11, 2019

Buzz: Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, shortlisted for Book of the Year at Waterstones and Foyles, and sold more than 23,000 copies in hardback. Being made into a Channel 4 show.

Queenie should be a pretty ordinary book.

It features a pretty ordinary girl, living a pretty ordinary life, with an ordinary circle of friends. Her challenges will be starkly familiar to many of us; from the feet-in-stirrups gynaecological examination opening, to the political frustrations, to the anxiety attacks. Many, too, will recognise the everyday realities of being a black British woman living an everyday London life. But familiar in life, is not the same as familiar in print. I can only imagine it might be a bittersweet shock the first time you see life reflected plainly in mainstream art. The joy of recognition undercut by the knowledge that that joy has been previously absent.

So many simple,...

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...

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...

February 11, 2017

The buzz:

Picked as best new book choices for 2017 in The Daily Mail, Stylist, Mail on Sunday, Buzzfeed, ELLE, Book Riot.

There are at least two generations too many in this multi-generational tale; it would benefit from losing the first chapter perhaps, and definitely the last 20% or so. But while that may sound a little damning, without that extra weight this would be a near perfect book. It’s elegant and skilful, thoughtful and refined, and for the insight into the Korean experience in Japan, and a depressing and hopeless examination of Motherhood, this epic is worth reading.

It starts in Korea in 1910 with an ageing fisherman and his wife who become boarding house keepers, but the main plot follows their granddaughter Sunja. Sunja falls pregnant out of wedlock and her honour is saved by a visiting church pastor who asks her to come to Japan with him as his wife. We then follow Sunja’s l...

January 12, 2017

The buzz:

Laura Kaye is one of the Daily Telegraph’s four new voices in literature for 2017

English Animals is one of Stylist Magazine’s ‘Big January Reads.’

It is also one of Reader’s Digest books for January.

READ AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LAURA KAYE HERE.


Anthropomorphic taxidermy may not be something you’ve thought much about, but put it into a Google image search and it becomes strangely compelling: rats playing dominos, mice on a ferris wheel, frogs in a Victorian classroom and Walter Potter’s Kitten’s Wedding. And it’s on a picture of this strange wedding that the fortunes of English Animals’ protagonist, Mirka, pivot.

Mirka is a lost soul - a Slovak immigrant who left her own country due to her sexuality and a scandal. She finds London impossible, and so joins an agency and applies for a poorly defined job as a general assistant in a grand country house. There she meets Sophie and Rich...

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