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It's autumn 2018 and a young woman moves into a rented room in university accommodation, ready to begin a job as a research assistant at Oxford. Here, living and working in the spaces that have birthed the country's leaders, she is both outsider and insider, and she can't shake the feeling that real life is happening elsewhere.
Eight months later she finds herself in London. She's landed a temp contract at a society magazine and is paying £80 a week to sleep on a stranger's sofa. Summer rolls on and England roils with questions around its domestic civil rights: Brexit, Grenfell, climate change, homelessness. Meanwhile, tensions with her flatmate escalate, she is overworked and underpaid, and the prospects of a permanent job seem increasingly unlikely, until finally she has to ask herself: what is this all for?
Incisive, original and brilliantly observed, Three Rooms is the story of a search for a home and for a self. Driven by despair and optimism in equal measure, the novel poignantly explores politics, race and belonging, as Jo Hamya asks us to consider the true cost of living as a young person in 21st-century England.
'I was bowled over by this barbed, supple book about precarity and power, both for its spiky, unsettling intelligence and the frank beauty of the writing' OLIVIA LAING
'Jo Hamya is an exceptionally gifted writer. Her portrait of a bright young woman struggling to get a foothold in an indifferent world is acute, informed, and deeply felt. Three Rooms slowly but surely broke my heart' CLAIRE-LOUISE BENNETT
© Jo Hamya 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
A phenomenal achievement. Perfectly judged set pieces at parties, offices and art galleries are infused with the illuminating and inquiring mind of an author who watches our society with an unflinching x-ray eye and tells its stories back to us with elegance and wit. And that, surely, is the mark of an excellent writer.
Biting and truthful ... A polemical novel, in a tradition of women writing about the cost of freedom that includes Woolf and leads to novelists such as Deborah Levy and Rachel Cusk ... [it] also belongs to a new genre of socially realist writing about millennial poverty and what it does to women's ambitions.
An intelligent, original examination of privilege and belonging in 21st-century England. Its account of thwarted progress proves absorbing, enriched as it is by shrewd observations and insightful meditations on the trials of modern life and the state of the nation.
A biting dissection of privilege, race, inequality and ideology in 21st-century Britain.
I was bowled over by this barbed, supple book about precarity and power, both for its spiky, unsettling intelligence and the frank beauty of the writing.