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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - BOOK REVIEWS - MELATU UCHE OKORIE BRIAN MAYE CHRIS­TIANA SPENS

All Men Want to Know Nina Bouraoui

Vik­ing, £12.99

The bril­liant thing about this book is that it makes read­ing au­to­bi­ogra­phies chic. Its loosely struc­tured style clev­erly takes the reader from set­ting to set­ting, coun­try to coun­try, and present to past in quick-paced sen­tences and short chap­ters. Bouraoui’s un­flinch­ing de­pic­tion of her life, told in a de­tached, mea­sured tone, catches one un­awares. Her de­scrip­tions, although witty, are also un­mis­tak­ably sad. Her love for all that is wom­an­hood is heart-warm­ing. I found my­self look­ing for­ward to read­ing the Know­ing and Re­mem­ber­ing chap­ters more, ea­ger to see Al­giers through young Nina’s eyes, to fol­low the strug­gles of her mother and her friends, women raised in a cul­ture that was com­pletely op­po­site to the one they were try­ing to either adapt to or give up on.

Free­dom Is a Land I Can­not See By Peter Cun­ning­ham Sand­stone Press, £8.99

This novel, set in Dublin in 1924, cen­tres on Rose Raven, a young woman who has lost her eyesight and her first love and lives qui­etly with her brother. He’s a jour­nal­ist whose in­volve­ment in try­ing to ex­pose near-famine con­di­tions in the west of Ire­land draws the at­ten­tion of a sin­is­ter and bru­tal po­lice de­tec­tive. The nar­ra­tive is di­vided into two equal parts, told in re­verse chrono­log­i­cal or­der, with an in­ge­nious epi­logue cre­at­ing the ap­par­ent “his­tor­i­cal” re­al­ity. A su­perbly crafted novel that grabs the at­ten­tion from the out­set and re­leases it only at the end, it con­veys with great skill the con­flict­ing, criss­cross­ing, com­plex loy­al­ties of so many fam­i­lies caught up in those high-oc­tane, dan­ger­ous times.

Boy Parts

By El­iza Clark In­flux, £9.99

Chan­nelling Bret Eas­ton El­lis, Irvine Welsh and at times Gwen­do­line Ri­ley, this black com­edy about a young artist in New­cas­tle is a dev­as­tat­ing satire of the art world and its cur­rent trends and dis­courses around sex­u­al­ity, the “gaze” and the power dy­nam­ics be­tween artist and sub­ject. Fol­low­ing Irina as she psy­cho­path­i­cally tracks down male mod­els for her artis­tic projects, ahead of her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion since a brief flash of suc­cess in her early twen­ties, Boy Parts ex­plores the dark­est corners of artis­tic prac­tice, sex­u­al­ity and vi­o­lence with bold wit and fear­less­ness. A daz­zling, hor­ri­fy­ing de­but that ques­tions the de­sires for at­ten­tion, con­trol and af­fect that un­der­lie so much artis­tic prac­tise. Clark suc­ceeds in cre­at­ing a grotesque por­trait of the artist as a young vam­pire.

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