Christmas Awards 2011

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Wendy Perriam's work

“One of the most interesting unsung novelists of her generation. Intelligent and accessible … she writes beautifully about relationships and hilariously about sex.” (Sunday Telegraph)

You may love Eric – or want to shake him! Passionately idealistic about his work as a librarian, and his mission to extend literacy and literature into the wider community, he’s also ruefully aware that he’s not exactly Superman. Forced to hide his mysterious background and his mortifying fears, he’s a man with secrets - withheld even from close friends. His once homely wife, now a fashionista, has abandoned him, to live in Seattle with a high-powered corporate kingpin; taking their only child, a moody minx-in-waiting, about to turn thirteen.

Yet, against the odds, Eric sets out to prove himself - indeed, even to find a soul-mate. Whether braving “Choco-Love” Speed-Dating (chocolates provided, but is he a hard nut or a melting cream?); running Wandsworth Prison readers’ groups; attending an American Church that champions the Gospel of Prosperity, or rescuing his daughter from near-rape - he finally comes to epitomize the truth of Hemingway’s words: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Perriam’s 22nd publication - and first novel in eight years – combines laugh-out-loud comedy with a probing investigation of fear; recognized by doctors and philosophers, as far back as Hippocrates, as one of the most fundamental of human emotions, yet frequently kept hidden, as a source of deepest shame. The novel also explores the often shocking world of children growing up in care. On account of their bad start in life, the future for many is prison, prostitution, the doss-house or drug-addiction. Yet, while Perriam questions the whole basis of our justice system, she also provides a highly entertaining read.

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