In Review

Novel of the week: A Shock by Keith Ridgway

Ridgway’s novel consists of nine interlinked stories, jostled together like ‘regulars in a pub’

Set during a sticky summer in south London, this “provocative” novel consists of nine interlinked stories, jostled together like “regulars in a pub”, said Susie Mesure in The Spectator.

What unites the characters is their powerlessness: Harry, the landlord of The Arms, can’t choose the beers he sells, while Gary, a shift worker at B&Q, can’t earn enough to buy the camera he longs for.

A master at manipulating emotions, Ridgway will have you smiling wryly at London life one moment, and wincing at police brutality the next. “There is little plot but plenty of action, and the odd dose of surrealism.”

Ridgway’s prose is “mesmerisingly” sharp, said Louie Conway in Vanity Fair, and his meticulously crafted novel is by turns bleak, hilarious, chilling and hopeful.

His descriptive writing is “pinpoint”, agreed John Self in The Times, but it’s the people – a slightly messed-up but “deeply loveable” bunch – who really hold the book together. With their constant reappearances and a final story which loops back to the opening one, A Shock is “like Finnegans Wake, only readable”.

Picador 288pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99

A Shock book cover
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

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