Customer Review

10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One to leave on the shelf, 24 May 2012
This review is from: Jubilee (Hardcover)
Jubilee would have made a good short story. As a novel, however, it is a tedious and curiously anticlimactic affair. The story is riddled with glaring omissions, hokey coincidences and unbelievable dialogue. All the characters are broadly drawn and fail to engage the reader, particularly the protagonist, the saintly Satish. This is just the latest in a growing sub-genre of white writers appropriating the stories of people of colour. Just as The Help turned Jim Crow law into a jokey aside, this turns the rise of fascism in Seventies Britain into a pop-coloured backdrop. Racism-lite, if you like. It reads like a literary drive-by through Britain in the Seventies. Flares? Check! Cheesy music? Check! Pan's People? Check!

Reading the list of acknowledgements in Jubilee is more interesting than reading the book itself. I wonder how the people whose stories she used feel about what Harris has done? Now, that's a story.

Somewhere I'm sure there's a writer of colour at work on a satire about a white writer appropriating the life story of a black person for commercial gain. That's a book I will gladly read. But somehow I don't think any mainstream publisher would offer such a writer a deal.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jun 2012 23:22:10 BDT
Dorian says:
One criticism you are making seems to be there is not enough racism in the book, so its not realistic, but those stories have been told. Did you think it needed a rape or two and perhaps a murder?

The saintly Satish is a drug addict, so that makes no sense. A flawed character.

May i ask if you are a person of colour? beause if you are not, its a bit strange of you to imply you know how people of colour would feel about white people writing about them. It would be doing exactly what you think the author should not do.

Its fine that you didn't like the book, but some of your criticisms make no logical sense.

Posted on 8 Jun 2012 16:15:20 BDT
Have just read this book and am glad to read someone else feels as I do. I feel underwhelmed and have a sense of 'was that it?' Oh....

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 14:00:58 BDT
EddieMan says:
Interesting but perhaps odd take on this. (In teh UK no-one says 'person of colour' for a start). Surely your objection to white writers writing about black characters is racist? Does that mean black writers cannot write about whites? No white person is stealing anything or even appropriating it - your extremist black-centric segregationist mindset is depressingly bigoted (and typical of the US afro-american industry). People are people - any writer can write about anything!

Have you ever thought that maybe the writer would not have got this published, and it wouldn't have been book at bedtime on national BBC radio, if it were all not about multiculturalism and the central character was not an Asian boy? Has it ever occured to you that white writers are choosing to write about ethnic characters specifically because it means (because of the obsession with mutliculturalism) it will have more chance of winning awards or being on the BBC?

This is the latest in a long line of books: those that cynically write for an audience (incl the BBC and publishers) who seem always to want ethnicity as a theme to a novel. It seems that these days if you don't have ethnic characters, multiculti themes and tick all the PC boxes, the BBC will not touch you, you won't win awards, and you won't get published.

I have no problem with novels which feature any themes or characters of any race - but this and many other books (look at all those shortlisted for awards) are so cynical in their themes: writers choose to write about multiculturalism and racism with awards and BBC adaptations in mind, I am sure. It's called cashing in on the fixation with the diversity fetish in our society, I think.

I have no read this book but listened to some of it on Radio 4 book at bedtime - I turned it off, I have to say. Rather dull and predictable.

I was there in 1977 as a 9 year old. Race was not a concern. It just was not an issue. Why? Because in the suburbs where I lived there were no black or brown people at all. But then, like most streets, we had no street party either.

If you want an impression of what life was like in 1977 do NOT read fictional creations like this.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jun 2012 13:21:33 BDT
crocus wood says:
i agee this book is best left on the shelf.i too felt is that it,there seemed lots of possibility of depth that never quite got going and where was all this vivid account of the 70's -i read v little

Posted on 2 Feb 2015 21:47:56 GMT
P. Scott says:
No one objects if a man writes a book with a female lead character or a woman writes one with a male lead, so I don't see why it should be a problem for a white female to write a book which has a British Asian male lead character. But I agree the book was dire. We start off with this huge issue that he can hardly bear to think about and by the end of the book its just fizzled out into a 'what was all that about then'.
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Location: London, United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,978,678