Assembly: Book summary and reviews of Assembly by Natasha Brown

Assembly

by Natasha Brown

Assembly by Natasha Brown X
Assembly by Natasha Brown
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2021
    112 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A woman confronts the most important question of her life in this blistering, fearless, and unforgettable literary debut from "a stunning new writer" (Bernardine Evaristo).

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend's family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can't escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Brown's provocative and lyrical debut follows a young Black British woman's navigation of the racism and sexism at her investment banking job while she contends with a breast cancer diagnosis...References to bell hooks' writing on decolonization and Claudia Rankine's concept of 'historical selves' bolster her fierce insights. This is a stunning achievement of compressed narrative and fearless articulation." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[B]rilliant...This is Brown's first novel, and it has all the jagged clarity of a shard of broken glass. A piercing meditation on identity and race in contemporary Britain." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This slimline novel may be minuscule at just over 100 pages, but it packs an oversized punch. A nuanced, form-redefining exploration on class, work, gender and race, Brown's debut has already garnered mass hype from the industry." - Harper's Bazaar

"The literary debut of the summer." - Vogue

"A sharp, experimental novel about a Black British woman who did everything right, and yet still, when faced with her mortality, isn't sure her life is worth hanging on to. Clocking in at a mere 112 pages, this critique of British racism and the 'culture of more' can be read in an afternoon, and should be." - LitHub (Most Anticipated Books of the Year)

"A modern Mrs. DallowayAssembly is the kind of novel we might have got if Woolf had collaborated with Fanon, except that I don't think either ever reined in their sentences the way Brown does here, atomising language as well as thought…Brown nudges us, with this merging of form and content, towards an expression of the inexpressible – towards feeling rather than thought, as if we are navigating the collapsing boundaries between the narrator's consciousness and our own." - The Guardian (UK)

"Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society: how it has poisoned even our language, making its necessary dismantling almost the stuff of dreams. I take hope from Assembly, not just for our literature but also for our slow awakening." - Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People

"A quiet, measured call to revolution…[Assembly is] slim in the hand, but its impact is massive; it strikes me as the kind of book that sits on the faultline between a before and an after. I could use words like elegant and brilliantly judged and literary antecedents such as Katherine Mansfield/Toni Morrison/Claudia Rankine. But it's simpler than that. I'm full of hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn't just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible." - Ali Smith, author of Summer

This information about Assembly shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Natasha Brown

Natasha Brown has spent a decade working in financial services, after studying Maths at Cambridge University. She developed Assembly after receiving a 2019 London Writers Award in the literary fiction category.

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