I’d had this book on the shelf for a while and kept putting off reading it as it reeked of middle class guilt and ‘right on’ liberalism, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Mr Selbourne was the first author on the writing course that I’m currently on and read from his début novel and answered questions about it and writing in general, which was just what I needed to get it off the shelf and give it a go.
The book is concerned with Beauty, a young Muslim girl and Mark, someone who appears to be a white racist thug but who ultimately turns out to have more heart and moral backbone than most of the other characters in the book. The plot is quite simple, natural really and I wont go into it a great deal merely to say that Beauty runs away from her family to escape an arranged marriage whereupon she comes into contact with the wider world (Wolverhampton) and gets an insight into the mysterious world of white people.
I was surprised and inspired by this book. Surprised by how honest it was and inspired by the subject matter and Raphael’s handling of it. It was so refreshing to read a contemporary book, set in this country, that sounded like the country I know and not some Guardian reading, homogenised, middle class friendly world that so many authors create. The handling of the multiple characters is done very well and the phonetic spelling of local dialects enabled me to feel that I was really there with these people.
This is a book about race, family, religion, culture but ultimately people. A great book, buy and read as soon as you can.