Ali Smith: Summer

The latest addition to my website is Ali Smith‘s Summer. This is the final novel in Ali Smith’s Four Seasons tetralogy and is bang up to date with not only references to Brexit but to the Boris Johnson administration, coronavirus, lockdown and the wearing of masks and also George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. We follow several stories, starting with Grace, a former actress who is bringing up two children, an environmentally-conscious sixteen year old girl and a malicious Dominic Cummings-inspired thirteen year old boy. Her ex lives next door with his girlfriend. We follow these and several other stories as Smith looks at the bad (Brexit, coronavirus, detention of immigrants, the breakdown of language, the failure of relationships and environmental irresponsibility) and the good (art, nature, environmental responsibility, community spirit and successful relationships) This is the conclusion of what must be the finest British set of novels of the 21st century.

Ian McEwan: The Cockroach

The latest addition to my website is Ian McEwan‘s The Cockroach, a satire on Brexit. He uses two clever twists in the book. The first is from Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis). We start off with the eponymous cockroach who metamorphosises into the prime minister, a thinly disguised Boris Johnson, though, at the time of writing, McEwan could not be sure Johnson would become prime minister. The second is that it is not between Brexit and Remain but between Reversalist (equivalent of Brexit) and Clockwise (equivalent of Remain), Reversalism being an imaginary and ridiculous economic theory involving reversing the money flow. The prime minister had been dithering somewhat till he is cockroached and then becomes ruthless and determined. It is amusing but to fully appreciate it, you would need a knowledge of the ins and outs of the political mess that is Brexit and, of course, it has already been overtaken by actual events.