A hauntingly beautiful, wickedly funny and
devastatingly moving novel of innocence
and dreams that announces the arrival of
a major new talent to the literary scene
The attic room at 26a Waifer Avenue in the lower-middle-class London
neighborhood of Neasden is a sanctuary for identical twins Georgia and Bessi
Hunter. It is a private universe where fantasy reigns as well as an escape from
the sadness and danger that inhabit the floors below. Here the girls share
nectarines and forge their identities -- planning glorious success as the Famous
Flapjack Twins -- well removed from their Nigerian mother, Ida, who, devastated
by homesickness, speaks to the spirits of the family she left behind on another
continent. On occasion Georgia and Bessi's older sister, Bel, and younger
sister, Kemy, are admitted into their broad, bright and fanciful realm, but
never their English father, who nightly bathes the wounds of his own upbringing
in far too much drink.
But innocence lasts for only so long -- and dreams, no matter how vivid and
powerful, cannot slow the relentless incursions of the real world. Bel's
transition into womanhood brings a very grown-up problem into the house that
cannot be pretended away. Kemy's entire existence is redefined overnight by
seductive pop-star glitter. And a terrible secret begins to threaten the twins'
utopia, setting them on divergent paths toward heartrending resolutions in a
world of separateness and solitude.
A work of bold, lyrical beauty, telling detail and compelling
characterization -- at once cheerful and thoughtful, playful and profound -- and
written in a unique prose style that metamorphoses brilliantly with the passage
of time, 26a will surely be one of the most-talked-about novels of this year and
many years to come, and its remarkable author, Diana Evans, welcomed
gratefully into the highest order of literary achievement.
If you've enjoyed books that explore the 'tug-of-war between dueling identities' such as Monica Ali's Brick Lane or Zadie Smith's White Teeth, you're likely to find much to enjoy about 26a. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New York Times - Ligaya Mishan
Only late in the book, when a rupture finally occurs, does Evans rise again to the mythic voice of the beginning, and propel the story to its harrowing and unexpected end. It's worth the wait. For, as it turns out, Evans's true subject is at once more familiar and more exotic than England or Nigeria. She allows us a glimpse into the lost country of childhood, of which we have all been citizens and to which we can never return.
Beautiful . . . A very earthy and relatable tale of family bonds and fractures.
New York Times Book Review
Beautifully written . . . [Evans] allows us a glimpse into the lost country of childhood, of which we have all been citizens and to which we can never return.
26A deserves to be read, and reread, by a large audience . . . Evans deftly balances comedy and tragedy, unfloding her story in vivid patchwork pieces that come together to form a bittersweet family portrait, splashed with brilliant images.
Library Journal - Tania Barnes
Evans's language can be uneven, veering toward the precious or the strange, but she can also turn a haunting, perfect phrase. A promising debut from a young author with much yet to offer.
Evans's language can be uneven, veering toward the precious (two characters make "butterly love") or the strange, but she can also turn a haunting, perfect phrase. A promising debut from a young author with much yet to offer.
Starred Review. From the very beginning of Evan's first novel (winner of Britain's inaugural Orange Award for New Writers), readers know they're in for something rich and strange.....This is a funny, haunting, marvelous debut.
Booklist - Jennifer Mattson
Starred Review. Evans should earn accolades for this trenchant debut, which speaks eloquently about identity, displacement, the most anguished of losses, and bone-deep love.
Daily Mail (London)
Bittersweet . . . an alluring blend of fairytales and nightmares.
Melbourne Herald Sun
Beautiful . . . Evans is in a class of her own.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Marilyn A magical, haunting, engrossing tale of identity, loss, and yearning I read at least 2 novels a week, but only rarely have I finished a book and immediately reread it from beginning to end....This is one of those exceptional books. It hooked me from the first paragraph. If you like fiction that is deep,... Read More
is a graduate of the University
of East Anglia's Creative
Writing MA, and lives in
London. She has published short
fiction in a number of
anthologies, has worked as a
journalist and arts critic for
several magazines in the United
Kingdom, and writes regularly
for the Independent and
Stage. She recently won
the 2005 Orange Prize for New
Writers for 26a (The
Orange Prize for Fiction,
supported by the Arts Council
England, has been awarded
annually for 10 years but last year was the first year for the Orange Award for New
Diana Evans was prompted to write her first novel following the suicide of
her own twin sister. She says, "It stopped me in my tracks ... I wasn't
really satisfied with what I was doing. It threw me
and made me...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...