SOCIAL THRILLER Hector Macdonald

The Mind Game (Michael Joseph £10) at t it sir i:

The recognition of emotions, the differential between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. They make us randomly react to every situation and mould our personalities. Imagine these could be read, by machine, and used to predict how people will react. Sounds like science fiction but in this stunning debut, it's all too realistic.

Sent to Madanzi, an unstable part of

Africa as a research guinea pig, Ben Ashurst encounters every emotion- draining scenario you c0uld think of, from getting arrested to being cheated in love. As the days go by and the trouble With the natives spills over into his idyllic world, he IS forced to give up and go home. But home isn’t the place he left and there seems to be an unhealthy interest in the emotion recorder implanted under his scalp. A game of manipulation is being played, but who by?

A Vital new mice in storytelling, Hector Macdonald washes away The Beach. Fiction With ethics. (Aly Burt)

NEO NOIR Vicki Hendricks

Voluntary Madness (Serpent s Tail £8.99) at at * ir

Near the start of Voluntary Madness, the narrator tells us she and her lover

Punch are in their final seven months of life. Come Hallowe’en, they'll dress

up as skeletons, swallow pills and die

together among the crowds. Meantime, they’re on two missions:

to complete Punch’s Great American

Novel; and by way of research, ’to be

Wild in Key West, while the going's

; good’. So begin their reckless

escapades on the Florida island, among them, breaking into the

former home of their hero I Hemingway and eating for free in top

restaurants. Vicki Hendricks describes her two earlier novels as 'n0ir’, but Voluntary

Madness is more a road movie on a

circular route, tanked up on amour

WH ERE: Ottakar’s Bookshop Unit 6, Buchanan Galleries Glasgow 61 26F

WH EN: Tuesday January 30th 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm

For further information or to reserve a place, please contact: Grainne Cooney on 0141 353 1500

Muioms or A Horocmsr Rtscuu

‘vnth lemma Armstrong






(Holocaust Rescuer and author of IN MY HANDS‘) and


(Holocaust Survivor and author of ONE MORE DANCE)

will talk to Anne Johnstone of THE HERALD

about their personal experience of the Holocaust.


‘IN MY HANDS is suitable for older teenagers and adults. Readers under the age of 13 may find some of the content disturbing


Zadie Smith

White Teeth (Penguin £6.99) ****

Burning out may be the only thing Zadie Smith will have to worry about. At the age of twenty-three, she could have made a significant if hardly revelatory debut; get her name bandied around in the right literary circles and steadily build a reputation. Instead, she has gone full pelt for the impossible dream and pretty much realised it. Kicking off with a failed suicide

attempt on New Year’s Day, 1975,

the story moves back and forth in

, time (from World War II to the end

of the millennium) and across geographical zones (Turkey,

Jamaica, North London,

Bangladesh) with Smith asking

questions both large and small.

White Teeth‘s unlikely heroes are

Realising an impossible dream

bumbling war veteran Archie Jones; his second wife, the orthodontically- challenged Clara; Samad, a man who gave up masturbation so he could drink without guilt; his stroppy wife who gives birth to twins. And many, 2 many others . . . Indeed, there are maybe just too many characters to keep in mind all at once, deflecting the purpose and blurring the focus while the Iarking

around with fonts, capitalisation and symbols can deflect attention from the story's heart. But she is excellent on the states of both body and soul (hunger and pregnancy, lust and fear) and her ‘images and events to be ingrained in the mind forever' quota-per-chapter is spectacularly high.

If you think it all sounds like the kind of thing which would make a nice telly adaptation in the mould of Buddha 0f Suburbia and In A Land Of Plenty, you'd be right. Keep your eyes on Channel 4 later this year.

(Brian Donaldson)

fou. As the couple’s adventures escalate, plausibility wears thin but there’s a punchy prose style and an easy grace about the narrative. Hendricks writes well about sex too, and the bittersweet climax, While predictable, is beautifully handled (Andrew Burnet)

' TRAGl-COMIC DRAMA Akhil Sharma An Obedient Father (Faber £9.99)


Not content With repeatedly raping his young daughter, the anti-hero of this novel, Mr Karan, attempts to repeat his crime years later With his granddaughter. In his working life, he corrupts, steals and betrays as a matter of course.

It is strong testament to Akhil Sharma’s skill as a writer then, that as the novel progresses and more of Mr Karan’s despicable actions are revealed, you feel pity rather than contempt for him. Sharma has a great understanding of human weaknesses, and his technique of relating the incidents from the VieWpOint of both father and daughter makes the reader party to this understanding.

The story is set in Delhi, during a time of great political upheaval, and the parallels between a c0untry on the brink of war and a family already destroyed are highly effective It may

i— STAR RATINGS air it it t it Unmissable * t r * Very ood * t t Wort a shot i it Below average it You've been warned

94 THE LIST 18 Jan—I Feb 2001

not be the most enjoyable book you'll read this year, but it’ll be one of the most compelling. (Kirsty Knaggs)


David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day (Abacus £9.99) it )k 1: at

DaVid Sedaris’ series of personal essays do exactly What a good autobiographical piece should. They're intimately, self-deprecatingly and unpretentioust all about life. Every one of his inseCurities and fantasies is contained here, as well as a menagerie of familial oddities and some hysterically funny anecdotes.

Okay, so Sedaris is ordinary en0ugh, he's no Nobel Prize Winner, great novelist, artist or film star; Just a gay, thirtysomething, failed artist, ex-speed freak, Paris-dwelling Greco-American With a speech impediment. Which, as well as demonstrating What a porntless word ’normal’ actually is, also reminds you that the phrase 'Iaugh-out-loud-funny’ is seriously ovenused.

Nothing much actually happens plot- Wise, but Sedaris' dead-pan sarcasm takes no prisoners, nobody, from Sedaris’ hopelessly optimistic father to ’Silly P The Rooster' Sedaris’ foul- mouthed hip-hop brother is spared. This book is, qune simply, a complete embarrassment to read in public. And probably one of the laugh-out-loud- funniest books of the year.

(Olly Lassman)

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