Eat or be eaten

SFX - - Reviews - Jonathan Wright

re­leased OUT NOW! 512 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor M sud­dain Pub­lisher Jonathan Cape

Riff­ing off our cur­rent ob­ses­sion with food­i­ness, Matt Sud­dain’s sec­ond novel has “foren­sic gas­tronomer” J Sal­vador Tam­ber­lain, aka “The Tom­a­hawk”, at its heart. He’s both a fear­less critic and a man on a mis­sion: to find the Ho­tel Grand Skies, a se­cre­tive es­tab­lish­ment for the rich and fa­mous, and a place where the stan­dards are bru­tally high.

And Tam­ber­lain needs to be brave, be­cause the uni­verse he moves through, lo­cated just off our own, is a place of Wil­liam Bur­roughs-in­fused strange­ness and Bal­lar­dian out­breaks of stac­cato vi­o­lence. It’s also a place Sud­dain de­scribes with droll flour­ishes: at Misty’s Spice Bou­tique, the food is so “bland and in­am­bi­tious” that Tam­ber­lain doubts “it’ll ever aspire to be­come shit”.

There are mo­ments when all this be­comes in­fu­ri­at­ing, when you want him to dial back the weird­ness. And yet, there are count­less for­mu­laic books out there. Mix­ing the tech­niques of lit­er­ary fic­tion and genre, Sud­dain is aim­ing to get some­place new – rather like the pro­tag­o­nists of his first two nov­els, prob­a­bly not un­co­in­ci­den­tally. This time around, he doesn’t al­ways make it, but you want him to keep try­ing.

We couldn’t find a good fact about Matt Sud­dain. So here’s a cute photo of him as a kid. Aw.­dain

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