Natasha BrownApr 18, 2022
Little Brown 2021
An interview with Natasha Brown, winner of the London Writers Award, and author of Assembly (Little Brown, 2021), the story of a young black British woman, marked by success in education and work, who asks a fundamental question: does my country care whether or I live or die? At a mere one hundred and two pages, Assembly manages to evoke more feeling, more sensorial reality than many novels twice its length. Natasha has gone to the novel’s primary function—its vision into the inner life of a character—and she has brought it to bear on the precariousness of black life. The result is a work of literary fiction that is profoundly beautiful, with passages of poetic form and lyrical description of a world that her narrator experiences as ultimately negating. Negating of her agency, her accumulated wealth and status, her education, her citizenship, and ultimately of her bare life. Suffused with its contemporary moment, with references to the police killing of Philando Castille and the white nationalist resurgence in Britain, Assembly is fundamentally a reminder that the sun has yet to set on the imperial mindset, and that the black body and the black intellect still do not register within that logic.
- Meena Kandasamy, Exquisite Cadavers
- Rachel Long, My Darling from the Lions
- Hannah Sullivan, Three Poems
- Roland Barthes, Mythologies
- bell hooks, “Postmodern Blackness”
Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers.