What does it mean to be a woman in contemporary Britain? What does it mean to be female, black and queer? Having published a collection of short stories on the theme of identity and already being a fan of the author’s writing, and even having attended one of her workshops, I knew I was going to like this, but it’s hellish tricky to review.
But how to pull it all together? A final chapter, set at the party following the first night of Amma’s play, The Last Amazon of Dahomey, at the National Theatre, attended by several characters we’ve already met falls much flatter than what goes before it. Likewise, an epilogue linking a couple of other characters in a way that surprises them, while credible, feels forced and almost twee in a novel that doesn’t shirk from confronting the truth, however complex and contradictory that must be.
So I’m not going to try to pull it together either – how can you sum up what it means to be human? – except to encourage you to spend some time in these women’s company. They won’t disappoint. Thanks to Hamish Hamilton for my review copy.