Four By Four Sara Mesa
Set entirely at Wybrany College – a school where the wealthy keep their kids safe from the chaos erupting in the cities – Four by Four is a novel of insinuation and gossip, in which the truth about Wybrany’s ‘program’ is always palpable, but never explicit. The mysteries populating the novel open with the disappearance of one of the ‘special,’ scholarship students. As the first part unfolds, it becomes clear that all is not well in Wybrany, and that something more sordid lurks beneath the surface. In the second part -a self-indulgent, wry diary written by an imposter who has infiltrated the school as a substitute teacher – the eerie sense of what’s happening in this space removed from society, becomes more acute and potentially sinister. An exploration of the relationship between the powerful and powerless – and the repetition of these patterns – Mesa’s ‘sophisticated nightmare’ calls to mind great works of gothic literature (think Shirley Jackson) and social thrillers to create a unique, unsettling view of freedom and how a fear of the outside world can create monsters.
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