At 105 pages, Isabel Waidner’s second novel for micropress Dostoyevsky Wannabe serves as a conveniently-sized companion for those moments of extreme Brexit-anxiety when comfort can only conceivably be found in queer migrant accounts of hocking bootleg high-end sportswear on the Isle of Wight. The wild, weird tale of cultural resistance I needed most in 2019.
I snoozed on this one for far too long but in its new paperback edition, Will Ashon’s deep dive into Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 hip-hop opus Enter the Wu-Tang totally floored me. Far from being another dreary Classic Album nostalgia trip, Chamber Music reconfigures the story of nine MCs from New York City as a prism through which to consider the social and cultural history of the city and even the nation as a whole. The story of Wu, Ashon argues, *is* the story of the US, and it’s electrifying.
While Ashon connects occasionally with the work of cultural theorists like Kodwo Eshun, Fred Moten, and Mark Fisher, he ultimately forges his own analytical space here, delivering deft, complex insights into race, class, drugs, and kung fu cinema with a lightness and immediacy that demands your complete surrender.
Nine thumbs up.
Published by Granta on 7th November 2019
This (Booker Prize shortlisted) novel is a glorious, multi-layered representation of black women in Britain; a playwright, a trans teenager, a single mum, an investment banker, a pensioner. Each character is written in a nuanced way with lives overlapping, while showing the many ways in which they can and can't win. It is undeniably a feminist novel; almost all them are to some extent inhibited by the patriarchy, some characters more brutally than others. Despite difference in class, sexuality, faith, age Evaristo ultimately celebrates individuality, showing that there is not one 'black british female experience' but many, and that they are complex, glorious, real. Highly recommend.