Summary and book reviews of Day by A.L. Kennedy

Day

A Novel

by A.L. Kennedy

Day
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2009, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

An emotionally charged, deeply affecting drama about the violence of modern life, and the intensity and courage to be found in the closeness of death. Blazing with Kennedy’s characteristic virtuosity, wit and narrative invention. Winner of the 2007 Costa Novel Award.

Alfie Day, RAF airman and former World War II POW, never expected to survive the war. He may not have even wanted to—choosing to be a tail gunner—exposed, alone and watchful for his skipper and his crew through night after night of bombing missions. Now, five years after the end of the war and more alone than ever, Alfie finds himself drawn to unearth those intense, strangely passionate days by working as an extra on a POW film. What he will discover on the set about himself, his loves and the world around him will make the war itself look simple.

Day is a superbly realized, emotionally charged, deeply affecting drama about the violence of modern life, and the intensity and courage to be found in the closeness of death. Blazing with Kennedy’s characteristic virtuosity, wit and narrative invention, Day is funny and moving, wise and sad, a dazzlingly original performance from one of the most gifted writers of our time.

Winner of the 2007 Costa Novel Award.

Alfred was growing a moustache.

An untrained observer might think he was idling, at a loose end in the countryside, but this wasn't the case. In fact, he was concentrating, thinking his way through every bristle, making sure they would align and be all right.

His progress so far was quite impressive: a respectable growth which already suggested reliability and calm. There were disadvantages to him, certain defects: the shortness, inelegant hands, possible thinning at his crown, habit of swallowing words before they could leave him, habit of looking mainly at the ground—and those few extra pounds at his waist, a lack of condition—but he wasn't so terribly ugly, not such a bad lot.

Mainly his problem was tiredness—or more an irritation with his tiredness—or more a tiredness that was caused by his irritation—or possibly both. He could no longer tell.

It wasn't that he was awkward, or peculiar, quite the reverse: he was biddable and ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Costa Book Awards
    2007

  • award image

    Costa Book Awards
    2007

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This disorienting prose style is the true strength of Day; in fact, it's the key that makes the entire story work. Without the constant shift of perspective and non-linear story line, we would never stand in Alfie's shoes, and that's the whole point. We must follow Alfie, be Alfie to the end, because learning what Alfie learns is the ultimate lesson of life, a lesson that that may ultimately save us from war.   (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).

Full Review Members Only (584 words).

Media Reviews

Boston Globe - Margot Livesey

This is not to say that there are not moments of clarity in the novel, indeed many moments. What is less clear is how they fit together in a way that allows readers to both remember and look forward.

San Francisco Chronicle - Martin Rubin

Here is the authentic voice of postwar British disillusionment. What an imagination in one born so long afterward to render it so perfectly. What stops "Day" from being merely the depressing story of a crack-up is Alfred's abiding humaneness. Even as he mourns dead comrades and the devastation wrought on a loved one by the enemy, even as he suffers at the hands of the Nazis, still he finds it in himself to pity the nation and its people whom it is his job to help bomb. This novel does not flinch from war's complexities and realities, and as a result, is an insightful and moving testament, public as well as private.

Kirkus Reviews

Living within Day's consciousness can be a claustrophobic reading experience.

Publishers Weekly

Alfred's interior thoughts (offset in italics) as well as ingenious forays into the second person (where he's presumably talking to himself). It takes getting used to, but adds texture and intimacy to this timely story about the detrimental effects of war on a good man.

The Guardian - Ursula K Le Guin

A woman born in 1965 who writes a novel about an RAF bomber crew in the second world war needs a gift for bringing history alive, as well as guts and true bravado. AL Kennedy has them all. Her picture of what war does to people burns with wisely unstated saeva indignatio. The young gunner who is the central figure of the book is drawn with profound sympathy. Her narrative gift is great. Yet the book never quite worked for me.

Times (London) - Helen Dunmore

Crew is everything, and the rest of life falls away. After the war, when the crew is finished and the retellings and recriminations begin, there is nowhere left for the man Alfred has become. His lost, angry, passionate conversation with himself is the best and most sustained thing in the book.

The Independent - Catherine Taylor

Once again, Kennedy brilliantly interweaves overwrought internal dialogue with external outrageous acts. The unfolding tenderness of nature and of amity blend superbly with the casualness of daily horror.

The Independent - Katy Guest

We will probably never know whether Kennedy was thinking of Iraqi civilians when she wrote this, and she may say that it is irrelevant. But in a rare moment of openness, she did once speak up for the importance of fiction. "It is the form that proves most deeply that other human beings are as human as we are," she says.

The Daily Telegraph - Jane Shilling

Day is a remarkable performance: an eerily convincing act of ventriloquism in which the internal monologue of a deeply troubled and inarticulate young man is transmuted into language that conveys the blunt, painful, sometimes beautiful and often comic flashing of his thoughts.

Scotland on Sunday - Stuart Kelly

Day confirms, if confirmation were needed, that Kennedy is a singular, superlative author. I hope that the judges of this year's Man Booker prize pay particular attention to it.

Reader Reviews

Cody G.

Disappointing... Kennedy, learn from this mistake.
Too much vulgarity and vanity. Kennedy has disappointed many readers who don't appreciate a lot of vulgarity. Kennedy should stop writing books if this behavior continues in other titles written by her....

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

World War II at the Movies:

Alfred Day's attempt to face the disillusionment of war on a film set is similar to what society at the time was doing at the movie theaters. The massive movie hits of the 40s and 50s, like To Hell and Back, allowed moviegoers on both sides of the Atlantic to relive moments of the war, if they had been directly involved, or to understand the nature of war, if they were not.

Since war broke out in 1939, World War II has been a favorite topic with movie studios in the USA and UK, and no doubt in ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Day, try these:

  • Broken Jewel jacket

    Broken Jewel

    by David L. Robbins

    Published 2010

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    New York Times bestselling author David L. Robbins presents a riveting novel of war, love, and survival, set against the backdrop of an improbable rescue, the Los Baños prison raid -- one of the most daring episodes of World War II.

  • Resistance jacket

    Resistance

    by Owen Sheers

    Published 2009

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Imbued with immense imaginative breadth and confidence, Owen Sheers's debut novel unfolds with the pace and intensity of a thriller. A hymn to the glorious landscape of the Welsh border territories and a portrait of a community under siege.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.