Book Reviews of the Week: 14.07.20

The Ghost Factory, Jenny McCartney

Buy The Ghost Factory from your local Bookseller:

‘As a private, intimate reflection on what it was like to live through the worst years of the violence, this novel is unrivalled’ Irish Sunday Independent

‘Deftly plotted and adroitly written, this account of Jacky’s conflicts is mesmeric‘ New Statesman

The novel explores the effects, psychological and physical, on victims, families and neighbourhoods. Beyond the darkness, though, it is also a humorous window onto a tightknit community, and a love story, warmly told‘ Sunday Times

‘This outstanding debut, written with flair and an all-pervasive dark humour, gives a deeply human face to Northern Ireland’s Troubles’ Mail on Sunday

‘For those concerned with the everyday practice of human rights violations in Northern Ireland, The Ghost Factory is a landmark in the literature of the Irish Terror. It is about “the pain of others”, as the writer Susan Sontag might put it. But it is also about the universal qualities of empathy, friendship, humour, faithfulness and erotic love’ Belfast Telegraph

Set in Belfast and London in the latter years of the twentieth century, The Ghost Factory is a powerful debut about what it is like growing up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles where, as the manufacturing industry withered, the death business boomed and the Province turned into a ghost town. 

In trying to come to terms with his father’s sudden death, and the attack on his harmless best friend Titch, Jacky is forced to face the bullies who still menace a city scarred by conflict. After he himself is attacked, he flees to London to build a new life. But even in the midst of a burgeoning love affair he hears the ghosts of his past echoing, pulling him back to Belfast, crying out for retribution and justice.

Beautifully written with the sharpest of ears for dialogue, Jenny McCartney’s tale of anger and love is a wonderfully large souled book with victims on both sides and all sprinkled with deep dark humour. Excellent. 

The Ghost Factory by Jenny McCartney is published by Harper Collins £8.99 (paperback) 

The Cat And The City, Nick Bradley

Buy The Cat And The City from your local Bookseller:

‘In a very impressive, finely observed debut, Nick Bradley masterfully weaves together seemingly disparate threads to conjure up a vivid tapestry of Tokyo; its glory, its shame, its characters, and a calico cat.’ – David Peace

‘The Cat and The City is a love letter to Japan and its literature. Bradley’s passion for everything from onigiri to Tanizaki’s short stories is woven into this book. Bradley was for a time an ex-pat and his insight into their perching state is particularly intriguing. He is also very clearly a man with a great tenderness for cats.’ – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

‘An inventive, clever and beguiling read. With Tokyo as the backdrop, this is a beautifully written novel about belonging and loneliness, about escape and destruction, where the enmeshed narratives (and a magical cat) bind the city together.’ – Elizabeth Macneal

‘Tender, delicate, and surprising, The Cat and The City is a lovely, rare progeny of a meeting between the English and the Japanese imagination.’ – Amit Chaudhuri

An impressive and exciting debut, The Cat and The City is a beautifully crafted love letter to Tokyo, Japan and all things Japanese. In a series of sharply drawn, keenly observed short stories told in many different voices, Nick Bradley paints a picture of a complex, inter-connected mega city, where strangers bush up against each and stories intertwine, as the reader seamlessly follows a stray calico cat at it weaves it way around the streets of Tokyo. A story of loneliness and how we are all in search of connections, using different complex writing styles from manga to footnotes, The Cat and The City is a beguiling tale that charms from the outset. Fascinating.

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley is published by Atlantic Books £14.99

Putney, Sofka Zinovieff

Buy Putney from your local Bookseller:

‘Certain books worm their way into your soul, grabbing you from the opening paragraph and holding you in their grip until the final page has been turned. Sofa Zinovieff’s Putney is just such a book, compelling the reader from its atmospheric opening until its bruising, bittersweet end’ — Sarah Hughes, i

‘Smart and gripping’ — Alex Preston, Observer, Books of the Year

‘Among the hottest books of this blazing summer’ — Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

‘Accomplished, timely and unusually well-wrought’ — Sarah Moss, Guardian

‘Zinovieff handles this difficult subject with control, insight, wisdom and sympathy … For anyone who came of age in that era, this can be an uncomfortable read, as well as an utterly fascinating one. I think it’s the best novel of 2018, by far’ — Cressida Connolly – Spectator, Books of the Year 2018

Sofka Zinovieff’s Putney, the smash hit of 2018, tells the compelling story of Ralph, an up-and-coming composer, who goes to visit Edmund Greenslay in his riverside home. At the heart of the house’s wild bliss, he finds Edmund’s nine-year-old daughter Daphne, flitting, sprite-like, through the house’s colourful rooms and unruly garden. From the moment their lives collide Ralph is consumed by an obsession to make Daphne his. Decades later, Daphne watches her own daughter come of age and is confronted with the truth of her own childhood – and a devastating act of violence that has lain hidden for decades.

A modern day Lolita for the post #MeToo generation, Putney, examines the tricky blurred lines between sex and sexuality and the ever-shifting sands of transgression and taboo. Haunting and beguiling and beautifully written it’s a story that stays forever in the heart and the mind. Outstanding.

Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is published by Bloomsbury £8.99

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