It’s been seven long years since the release of this impressive author’s previous novel, the stirring, empathetic Do Not Go Gentle (2014). What impressed me most about that novel wasn’t a sense of technical mastery, of structural innovation, or a particular attempt at defamiliarising or challenging language. Rather, it was a consistent sense of witnessing how a writing masterclass was unfolding – bit by bit – in how to let themes and thematic concerns speak for themselves. No spoonfeeding, no aggressive didacticism, no cloying moralisation or forced lessons for the reader to process.
This was writing stripped bare of literary pretension and grandstanding, losing very little in impact, nuance, functionality or ultimately the intimacy of the reading act, a form of sacred witnessing between author and reader.