Karen Jennings’ short 2021 Booker Longlisted novel follows Samuel, an old man living on an island in an unknown African country and one day his routine is abruptly disturbed by a body of a refugee being washed up on the shore of the island.
This is a powerful little novel by a small independent press ( Holland House Books). The book definitely is not pitied by Booker judges due to its small publication but is selected because it’s an absolutely marvellous novel by a writer who has something important to say.
It’s remarkable how Jennings in such a small novel conveys so much about the post colonial perspective and rebellion against dictatorship in an African country but leaves much room for interpretation. I loved how she is touching political themes, environmental themes but not going into the depth of it, but just touching a surface level.
The book is a great portrait of loneliness and trauma of past difficult times. Past memories floods constantly in Samuel’s mind, about his childhood when his families ancestral lands were confiscated during dictatorship, his shift into city and life in prison and most difficult time after getting out of prison.
The author remarkably shows how a person’s mind is affected after suffering so much cruelty and injustice.
I think it’s a very powerful and a very strong contender for this year’s Booker prize.
AN ISLAND – Karen Jennings. Published by Holland house books. A big thank you to Holland House books for review copy of this book.