The 392 by Ashley Hickson-Lovence
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑 (3/5)
Having lived on Caledonian Road for 26 years, I was already accustomed to the harsh dichotomy of the rich and poor, the surreptitious emergence of gentrification and the pervasiveness of a disillusioned and defensive youth. With that in mind, I guess you could say I felt somewhat protective going into this weekend’s read. Fortunately, I was mostly impressed by Hickson-Lovence’s abrasive depiction of inner-city, London life. The book’s strength lies in its use of a realistic vernacular, as well as its effortless examination of intersectional London life. That said, I did feel like the inner monologues were a little contrived at times and the book occasionally veered into ‘name-dropping’ which I felt was a little crude and unnecessary. Notwithstanding this personal criticism, I did thoroughly enjoy the book and managed to read it in the space of a day. In a nutshell, this is a great debut from a promising young writer. At times it hints at strokes of excellence, at others its borders on the self-conscious nature of GCSE writing. With a little refinement, the author could be amazing, but I think I can safely say it was a good, and not an amazing or life-changing, read. I look forward to see what’s coming next!
Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
If there was one book this year that I wish I’d written, it would be Adjei-Brenyah’s deeply prescient collection of short stories: ‘Friday Black’. Set in a Black-Mirror-inspired, contemporaneous envisioning of North America, ‘Friday Black’ takes its readers on a dizzying pit-stop tour through an abject, alternative reality where the general public visit theme parks to live out their terrorist fantasies and where Black Friday represents a ritualistic, hyper-consumerist holiday involving blind killings and a plague-like illness that transforms the average shopper into a murderous savage. In this totally original work, Adjei-Brenyah takes a selection of salient and topical cultural phenomena and presents them in a shocking (but not totally unbelievable) framework that will urge you to question EVERYTHING around you. A fantastic debut from a very promising young voice.
Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕 (5/5)
Hadn’t been particularly inspired to read at the time, however I decided to delve into my back catalogue of book suggestions and I happened to stumble upon this gem of a book recommended by my friend and fellow King’s graduate @christobelhastings Ghost Wall is only 150 pages long, but over the course of this short, but terribly powerful, novella, Moss builds an insuppressible level of tension which climaxes with a final scene that will forever stay with me. Telling the story of a university group and a family intent on reliving the realities of Iron-age Britain in the midst of the Northumbrian Moors, Moss reflects on how the timeless nature of extreme nationalism lies buried in the vaults of history preceding our current zeitgeist of Brexit. Violence, Isolation and Repression combine in this fascinating portrayal of experimental archeology and bodily trauma that brings to mind the uncomfortable realities of human nature conjured in Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Go and pick yourself up a copy NOW! You won’t be disappointed. @grantabooks @granta_magazine
Words by James Glover
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