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The Living Hardcover – 10 Mar 2016
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‘An extraordinary portrait of two lives that moves between Norwich and smalltown India poses fundamental questions about existence … The Living asks, with a great, moving, unostentatious urgency, and a groundswell that remains with you long after you’ve read it, a question that probably only the novel, as a form, can ask: how do these moments and events add up to “our” life, and what is it in our awareness that leads to this sense of ownership, especially when awareness is extinguished recurrently at night, or with drunkenness or fatigue? How, on waking, do these memories and lacerations once more become our own? Joseph’s is a deep and unusual talent; she attends to questions for which not every novelist is equipped. The Living is an exceptional, unexpected work’ Amit Chaudhuri, Guardian
‘This is the award-winning Joseph’s third novel and its restraint, precision and assurance confirm that she is a rare talent’ Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
‘Rather like a Dardenne Brothers or Ken Loach film … The moment in itself is forever charged by complexity and sometimes, no small amount of wonder … This third novel is her most satisfying and accomplished, speaking its wisdom in whispers’ Arifa Akbar, Independent
‘The novel is best when excavating inner lives, and the most satisfying scenes deal with characters’ seething discontent with life’ Anita Sethi, Observer
‘A beautiful and profound book that distils, with uncanny precision and truthfulness, the flow and movement of inner lives deep under the surface of things. Joseph has dug at one of the hardest spots in the terrain of form and come up with a luminous and rare jewel’ Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others
About the Author
Anjali Joseph was born in Mumbai. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne. More recently she wrote for the Times of India in Bombay and was Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2008. Her first novel, Saraswati Park, was published by 4th Estate in 2010; it won the Betty Trask Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction in India. Another Country, her second novel, was published in June 2012.
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There are the two main characters united by both being makers of footwear but that is there only connection.
Claire is in Northampton, an historic shoe making town. She has a son Jason but there is no reference to his father.
Arun lives in Mumbai, he seems to have his complete family around him. At the start of the chapters about him he has been ill and is still recovering a sense of who he is.
i thought the chapters set in India despite being less of them were more colourful and the characters more vivid.
i can't really make up my mind about this book. It is kind of elusive. Perhaps by intention. I am not even sure of that.
I would only give this three stars because I felt something was held back, something missing so I cannot say positively that I liked it. i didn't dislike it either.
This book tells the story of two different people on two different continents. The blurb intrigued me and I was looking forward to reading it.
First we meet Claire. Claire lives in the Uk and is a single mother who works in a shoe factory. Arun is a recovered alcoholic and grandfather who lives in India and makes chappals for a living.
Apart from the fact they both make footwear for a living, Claire and Arun's stories run parallel to each other. We explore their pasts, their loves and their regrets, but nothing in great detail.
I feel that there is potential for a great story in The Living but it didn't quite deliver. Also, I don't know if it's because it's a review copy, but it was hard to read in some places with spaces in the middle of words all through it. This reads more like a work in process, rather than the finished product, so who knows, it may be improved upon.
Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review The Living in exchange for an honest review.
For most, is this typical of life? Pick any two people, no matter how disparate. Delve a little and discover much in common.
Readers more perceptive than I will no doubt find much to applaud - strong characterization, sensitivity, humour, recognition of fundamental truths.
Sadly I found it all rather inconsequential, it hard to connect with those portrayed - there astonishment when suddenly there was no more about Claire. This book was not disliked, but simply cause for regret that I failed to tune into its wavelength. My loss, no doubt.
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Most recent customer reviews
Characters were not that believable.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Harper Collins via netgalley in...Read more