Unexploded is Alison MacLeod's compelling novel of love and prejudice in wartime Brighton.
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2013.
May, 1940. On Park Crescent, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news of the expected enemy landing on the beaches of Brighton.
It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton's Royal Pavilion his English HQ. As the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, and her thoughts become tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.
Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a 'degenerate' German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband's internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn's and Otto's mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest. Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably.
Praise for Alison MacLeod:
'Alison MacLeod is a strikingly original voice. Her stories create intimate worlds and make the reader live in them with an intensity which is haunting, disturbing and above all beguiling' Helen Dunmore
'MacLeod's fictions are evocations of desire and its mysteries . . . [Her] characters are strong, and they are worth listening to' Guardian
'MacLeod has an engaged delight in the stuff of life' The Times Literary Supplement
'MacLeod's range - spanning the movingly real to the mysteriously surreal - is excitingly, imaginatively realised and unified in awareness of the dark menace of love's uncertainty' Metro
Alison MacLeod was raised in Canada and has lived in England since 1987. She is the author of three novels, The Changeling, The Wave Theory of Angels and Unexploded, and of a collection of stories, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction. Unexploded was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2013. She is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at Chichester University and lives in Brighton.
Unexploded is an unforgettable book. With exquisitely researched and rendered detail, the author plunges us into the panic and paranoia of war, fusing international politics, national politics and family politics in her powerful study of hypocrisy, oppression, cultural misunderstanding and desire
Love, fear and prejudice are all skilfully anatomised in this compellingly intimate exploration of life in war time Brighton
Finely wrought, moving and haunting. What a wonderful novel this is. Bravo Alison MacLeod
A persuasive period setting, an intricate plot, sumptuous prose
An exploration of the xenophobia and neurosis unleashed in times of national crisis . . . MacLeod remains one of the most astute chaoticians writing today
Compelling, fast-paced, powerful. The descriptions of wartime Brighton are pin-sharp . . . the denouement is as heartrending as it is unexpected
An intelligent, perceptive novel by a writer of great descriptive power . . . Like her modernist forebears, MacLeod knows that life and death, the terrible and the mundane always co-exist - her genius lies in illustrating these truths while simultaneously spinning a bona fide pageturner