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The Living Hardcover – March 10 2016
In this tender, lyrical, and often funny novel, Anjali Joseph, author of Saraswati Park, shines a light on everyday life, illuminating its humour, beauty, and truth.
There is a certain number of breaths each of us have to take, and no amount of care or carelessness can alter that.
This is the story of two lives. Claire is a young single mother working in one of England’s last remaining shoe factories, her adult life formed by a teenage relationship. Is she ready to move on from memory and the routine of her days? Arun makes hand-sewn chappals at his home in Kolhapur. A recovered alcoholic, now a grandfather, he negotiates the newfound indignities of old age while returning in thought to the extramarital affair he had years earlier.
These are lives woven through with the ongoing discipline of work and the responsibility and tedium of family life. Lives laced with the joys of friendship, the pleasure of sex, and the redemptive kindness of one’s own children. This is the story of the living.
In this tender, lyrical and often funny novel, Anajli Joseph, author of Saraswati Park, shines a light on everyday life, illuminating its humour, beauty, and truth.
‘An extraordinary portrait of two lives that moves between Norwich and smalltown India poses fundamental questions about existence … The Living asks, with a great, moving, unostentatious urgency, and a groundswell that remains with you long after you’ve read it, a question that probably only the novel, as a form, can ask: how do these moments and events add up to “our” life, and what is it in our awareness that leads to this sense of ownership, especially when awareness is extinguished recurrently at night, or with drunkenness or fatigue? How, on waking, do these memories and lacerations once more become our own? Joseph’s is a deep and unusual talent; she attends to questions for which not every novelist is equipped. The Living is an exceptional, unexpected work’ Amit Chaudhuri, Guardian
‘This is the award-winning Joseph’s third novel and its restraint, precision and assurance confirm that she is a rare talent’ Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
‘Rather like a Dardenne Brothers or Ken Loach film … The moment in itself is forever charged by complexity and sometimes, no small amount of wonder … This third novel is her most satisfying and accomplished, speaking its wisdom in whispers’ Arifa Akbar, Independent
‘The novel is best when excavating inner lives, and the most satisfying scenes deal with characters’ seething discontent with life’ Anita Sethi, Observer
‘A beautiful and profound book that distils, with uncanny precision and truthfulness, the flow and movement of inner lives deep under the surface of things. Joseph has dug at one of the hardest spots in the terrain of form and come up with a luminous and rare jewel’ Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others
About the Author
Anjali Joseph was born in Mumbai. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne. More recently she wrote for the Times of India in Bombay and was Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2008. Her first novel, Saraswati Park, was published by 4th Estate in 2010; it won the Betty Trask Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction in India. Another Country, her second novel, was published in June 2012.
- Publisher : Fourth Estate (March 10 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007462816
- ISBN-13 : 978-0007462810
- Item weight : 330 g
- Dimensions : 14.1 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
There are the two main characters united by both being makers of footwear but that is there only connection.
Claire is in Northampton, an historic shoe making town. She has a son Jason but there is no reference to his father.
Arun lives in Mumbai, he seems to have his complete family around him. At the start of the chapters about him he has been ill and is still recovering a sense of who he is.
i thought the chapters set in India despite being less of them were more colourful and the characters more vivid.
i can't really make up my mind about this book. It is kind of elusive. Perhaps by intention. I am not even sure of that.
I would only give this three stars because I felt something was held back, something missing so I cannot say positively that I liked it. i didn't dislike it either.
For most, is this typical of life? Pick any two people, no matter how disparate. Delve a little and discover much in common.
Readers more perceptive than I will no doubt find much to applaud - strong characterization, sensitivity, humour, recognition of fundamental truths.
Sadly I found it all rather inconsequential, it hard to connect with those portrayed - there astonishment when suddenly there was no more about Claire. This book was not disliked, but simply cause for regret that I failed to tune into its wavelength. My loss, no doubt.