It’s quite a quick review for Assembly here, which I downloaded on 01 April this year. It’s had a lot of buzz about it, and the description of a young Black woman attending a big posh White garden party and deciding she had had Enough appealed to me – in fact it was touted as shocking, which worried me a bit.

I just struggled to get to grips with this. I think I’m not adept enough with literary criticism or getting to grips with the modern novel. It was episodic and full of flashbacks and bits of thoughts. I could compare it to “Open Water” in the sort of floaty and slightly confusing narrative (although it had a more standard first-person narrator). There were flashes of “Queenie” in her workplace life and the micro-aggressions and work best friends but that was way more straightforward to read (and sorry to compare this only to books by other Black authors – looks like those are the group of modern novels I seem to be reading at the moment!).

There are great moments in it, the reader has to work for information a lot of the time and that got me confused, but it does have important things to say about micro- and macroaggressions and how exhausted Black women are by their code-switching, “Work twice as hard” lives (this was a theme in “The Other Black Girl,” of course, too). This, unnamed, heroine takes a different and, yes, I suppose shocking, strategy to give in to the exhaustion. I liked how Brown wove in important information about the British Government’s destruction of records of citizenship which came out in the Windrush Scandal (recently also highlighted in “Burning the Books“), but I’m afraid I couldn’t work out why the narrator was sending off her passport which initiated that discussion.

So for me, good in parts but confusing – but I’m sure a lot of that is down to me and my distance from reading books as critically and academically as this one might need. I’d struggle with the structure whoever the author and whatever the topic. It’s good to have experimental novels by Global Majority People authors getting published and shared on services like NetGalley, of course.

Thank you to Hamish Hamilton for making this book available for me to read via NetGalley in return for an honest review.