7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Ambitious,intriguing and novel,
This review is from: Politics (Hardcover)
This book could be easily criticised. It owes a lot to Kundera's 'Art of the Novel' (e.g. short chapters, weaving in mini-essays on historical/political themes, and exploring a concept or construct and what it means to different characters).Tbe short sentences and use of proper nouns rather than pronouns gets a little laboured. And the ending seems to turn the theme of the novel into something trite like 'you shouldn't be generous to the point of sacrificing yourself'.(Aristotle's Golden Mean said this better two thousand years earlier). The historical sections seem occasionally to be like a sixth former's parody of Kundera, an E.J. Thribb finding of significance in not very much. And the comedy of sexual self consciousness and embarrassment is fairly well trodden territory, albeit in a new Hoxton, threesome context.
And yet, for all these criticisms, this is an exciting, intriguing and genuinely novel book. It's tone is unusually tender and kind. As well as their self consciousness and misjudgement of others' feelings, the characters have a consideration for each other - it hints at an ethics based on 'acknowledging the face of the other'. I trusted the author's intelligence and awareness, that this is a considered book that deserves csreful reading and reflection. It leaves me with a feeling of excitement and ambiguity, of rich thoughts and questions to be pursued. And you can't ask a lot more than that. As for things like the debt to Kundera, novels aren't created ex nihilo, and what better mentor to have. A fabulous achievement for 24 years old!