'I also enjoyed Ayanna Lloyd Banwo's When We Were Birds (Hamish Hamilton), a spooky love story set in modern Trinidad, and Samuel Fisher's unsettling fable-like Wivenhoe (Corsair), set in an Essex village, in an alternate present where the world is blanketed by snow.'
'There is so much to treasure in Wivenhoe - at once a loving evocation of place and the memorable characters who people it, and an unflinching examination of self-defeating survival strategies which threaten their very existence. In stunning, insightful, deeply humane prose, as daily rhythms dissolve into violence and resentment, Fisher indicts all of us yet still offers hope that we may change the ending of this story'
Compelling...the novel's core resonates mostly deeply on the level of the personal, in the moments of desperate intimacy Fisher's beautifully realised characters clutch at in the face of disaster. A story about the world and what it means to survive - this is a fable for the times ahead that feels essential
A stirring, exacting tale
Wivenhoe explores the ways disasters make us both less and more ourselves. I was particularly moved by Fisher's careful tallying of the small choices that are made within a family - the secret hurts and private allegiances. While it is a book about climate change, dystopias and all, it is at the root about love. I loved it
An elegantly terrifying narrative that is reminiscent of Graham Swift's Waterland in its focus on an insular, secretive community in the east of England
'A steady, sleek book that navigates the instincts we have about each other, those things we should have always known. Those things we should have always known about ourselves. Tension cuts between whispers and heart-shrieks. A series of rooms holding the quiet pain of abstracted memories. Snow binds yet removes people from each other. Ruminations into alternative lives, a sequence of people, all wondering what if?'
Quiet, fable-like menace radiates from every page of Wivenhoe. Elegant and searching, it asks vital questions about what it means to be part of a community - about integrity, belonging, and how darkness can go unchecked when isolation and suspicion sets in - questions that now feel more relevant than ever
'Eerie and disorientating, visceral and elusive. I felt safe yet scared. Such skilful and sensory storytelling'
'A tender description of a Essex village which is quiet and familiar, with its wide skies and its community centre, but also very weird. There are desperate, dying people here, and polar bears prowling the outskirts. Fisher tells a story of lives lived under threat of destruction: the cruel competitions it sets up, and the ways in which human affection lasts. It's a loving book'