The GOS would like to share his holiday reading with you.
It was a book called “The Other Hand” by Chris Cleave, published by Sceptre. It was short-listed for the Costa prize in 2008, and these are some of the glowing reviews it earned ...
A powerful piece of art ... shocking, exciting and deeply affecting ... a superb novel ... besides sharp, witty dialogue, an emotionally charged plot and the vivid characters' ethical struggles, The Other Hand delivers a timely challenge to reinvigorate our notions of civilized decency - The Independent
Exquisitely balanced between terrible sadness and brilliant humour – The Observer
Big themes, high emotion and cliffhangers aplenty ... an enormously affecting investigation of love, guilt and global responsibility, told with a bittersweet urgency – The Guardian
Searingly eloquent – some rubbish paper we refuse to even mention. Oh, all right, the D**ly M**l
An ambitious and fearless gallop from the jungles of Africa via a shocking encounter on a Nigerian beach to the media offices of London and domesticity in leafy suburbia - The Guardian again
totally believable ... the author has a knack of explaining human suffering ... I look forward to his next offering - Daily Express
impresses as a feat of literary engineering ... the plot exerts a fearsome grip - Daily Telegraph
It would be hard not to romp through it - Financial Times
By turns funny, sad and shocking – Sainsburys. Er, what? We already have supermarkets offering car insurance, banking, internet access, estate agencies, so now they're getting into the literary criticism business?
In a novel that tackles serious and uncomfortable subject matter, Cleave's writing makes one laugh and despair in equal measure - Time Out
I felt the same excitement discovering this as I did Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Paul Torday's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. There is an urgency here, an inability to put it down and a deep sense of loss once finished. It is a very special book indeed. Profound, deeply moving and yet light in touch, it explores the nature of loss, hope, love and identity with atrocity its backdrop. Read it and think deeply - Sarah Broadhurst, Pretentious Pseuds' Weekly. Oh no, sorry, The Bookseller
the best book of 2009, no question - Metro
Mind you, not everyone was quite so bowled over. There's an excellent and less-than-glowing review by Anne Brooke here.
In truth, it's not perfect. Part melodrama, part social and political exposé, part mystery, part farce, it's self-consciously clever – by which we mean that it is clever, it really is, but that the author jolly well knows he's being clever, almost as though he is preening himself on every deftly-turned phrase or brilliantly characterised speech.
Still, that's being unkind. It really is incredibly charming, appalling, annoying, thought-provoking and comforting – all the things a good book should be. And it has an undeniable ring of truth about it, too. The GOS thinks everyone should read it, because it says some uncomfortable things about immigration, its main protagonist being an illegal immigrant from Africa. Who knows, it might even make some of our opinions on the subject ... shall we say ... a little less entrenched?
Buy it here.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2010 The GOS