Tonight Is Already Tomorrow by Lia Levi translated by Clarissa Botsford
Nevertheless, he manages to keep an independent mind, despite his mother’s snide comments. His education continues when Mussolini blocks Jewish children from attending ordinary school. It continues when his father is exiled from Genoa, not because of race or religion but because he’s a foreigner with a British passport. By the time the family is ready to use that to their advantage, it’s too late.
It seems churlish to complain that a novel set in such a dark period of history lacks tension, but that was my experience. Mostly due to the style of writing, and partly familiarity with a narrative that is so much worse. I did admire the ending, however. Thanks to publishers Europa editions for my review copy.
Widowland by CJ Carey
Confused? You needn’t be. The mechanics of this alternative history are well – perhaps too well – explained. So we know not to envy Rose, assigned at sixteen to the high-caste Gelis, who reads for a living. As a member of the Correction team (Fiction) in the Ministry of Culture, she’s tasked with excising subversive elements from classic texts like Jane Eyre.
Although advised to approach the work mechanically, she can’t help being affected. So when she’s sent to interview the lowest ranking women in Widowland, to try to uncover the roots of a recent rebellion, she’s not sure whose side she’s on.
Part thriller, part misogynist dystopia, part tribute to the humanising power of literature, this is a fun novel which reminds us never to take our freedom for granted. Thanks to publishers Quercus for my advance proof copy.
Rose works in an office, allowing me to segue into the prompt for this week’s 99-word story. Except I’m not sure I’ve met the criteria of a new way to office, in building my flash fiction around Janice, the young social worker in my new novel, Matilda Windsor is Coming Home. Maybe it’s enough that’s she’s reappraising the shared office in her new job. And it fits with my current preoccupation with humour and mental health.
When she first saw the poster, Janice cringed. Sure, it wasn’t as corny as the one in the secretary’s office: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE MAD TO WORK HERE, BUT IT HELPS! But shouldn’t social workers be above laughing at Alice and the grinning Cheshire cat?
As the institution tentacled around her, the poster – with coffee, kettle and cups shelved below it – became a shrine. Humour an island of calm amid the chaos that infected staff and patients alike. Carroll’s cat wiser than any psychiatric textbook, decrying Us and Them divisions. I’M MAD. YOU’RE MAD. WE’RE ALL MAD HERE.