The Midult

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I’ll be joining The Midults Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan on Thursday 31st January to discuss their new book: I’m Absolutely Fine! A Manual for Imperfect Women. They’ll be offering a wry, heartfelt and edgy look at what it is to be a grown-up woman  and will also answer all your questions. This event is now SOLD OUT but if you would like a signed copy of their book, please contact lovely Village Books, who are organising the event, via the link below.

 

Golden Child by Claire Adam

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Twins make up only a small fraction of the population but loom disproportionately large in literature. They are handy for storylines involving mistaken identity and creepy synchronicity, and offer the chance to show how people whose lives begin in the same place can take drastically different paths. A contrast between dissimilar twins is at the heart of “Golden Child”, Claire Adam’s assured and compelling first novel, which is set in rural Trinidad, where she grew up, during the 1980s.

Unlike Viola and Sebastian in “Twelfth Night”, Peter and Paul Deyalsingh do not appear to be “An apple, cleft in two”. Not at all. Paul “tends to slink around”, while Peter “walks with a bold step”. The boys—aged 13 when the book opens—have been treated differently from the beginning. Paul was deprived of oxygen at birth; a doctor suggested to the twins’ father, Clyde, that “mental retardation” might have resulted.

 

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

The title of this debut collection of short stories might mimic that of a “How to” manual but Alexia Arthurs’s prose is anything but didactic. In the opening story, “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” the narrator Kimberley observes of her friend Cecilia that she was the “kind of black girl who didn’t think about her race as much as I did.” Although Kimberley initially views her friend as “a white girl trapped in a black girl’s body—an Oreo,” her judgment comes to seem too easy. Kimberley had also been labelled “an Oreo” at school because she liked spending time in the ceramics classroom.

Some of Arthurs’s protagonists live in Jamaica, others have been transplanted to North America and a few inhabit, at least psychologically, the limbo between the two.

 

China Dream by Ma Jian

Ma Jian’s novels have been banned in his native China for 30 years and he has been hailed as ‘China’s Solzhenitsyn’. His latest book, China Dream, also contains some of the zip and vigour found in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian visions. This must be one of the liveliest novels about brainwashing ever written.

Ma Daode, the protagonist, is the director of the China Dream Bureau. Chillingly, such a body exists and was tasked with promoting Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream of National Rejuvenation’ shortly after he came to power in 2012.

 

Jamie Lloyd: the theatre director tearing up the playbook

The director Jamie Lloyd’s ascent to the top of British theatre has been so fast he’s sometimes called “Jammy Lloyd”.

An advocate of affordable theatre for diverse audiences, he’s been described by The Evening Standard as ‘redefining West End theatre.’ At 38, he’s now set himself the challenge of directing all of Harold Pinter’s shorter plays in a single season. He’s cast Danny Dyer, Martin Freeman, Tom Hiddleston, and he coaxed Lee Evans out of retirement. We ask him how. And why?

 

Land of the Living by Georgina Harding

Georgina Harding’s four previous novels – The Solitude of Thomas CaveThe Spy GamePainter of Silence and The Gun Room – have all explored, in different territories, what trauma does to the psyche. Land of the Living is no exception. The Second World War has ended and a young British officer, Charlie Ashe, has returned to England to marry Claire. His experiences as a soldier in the Battle of Kohima – one of Britain’s bloodiest battles – and the subsequent months he spent lost in the jungles of Assam, are now firmly in the past.