Summer, by Ali Smith

Second paragraph of third part:

She’s the filmmaker whose images I described earlier, the image of the men who can’t speak or hear crossing the rubble conversing with each other and the image of the man with the two suitcases at the edge of the high building.

This is the fourth in a quartet of novels by Smith (whose How to be Both I also enjoyed). I haven't read the other three; I don't think it is essential to have done so in order to enjoy Summer, though I am sure it would help. It's a story of a dysfunctional London family in 2020, with pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, comobined with flashbacks to the Second World War and an internment camp on the Isle of Man. It's possibly the first novel set in the pandemic that I have read, and I guess that means quite a lot – a clear reflection of these turbulent times, with also some invocation of the filmmaker Lorenza Mazzetti who I should find out more about. In a period where we've perforce had to live very much in the present, I felt the book both supported that feeling and helped give some historical perspective. Recommended. You can get it here.

This was my top book acquired last year, and my top un-read non-genre book. Next on those piles, respectively, are Calvin, by F. Bruce Gordon, and Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney.


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