Now that you're back
Tender, precise, comic and chilling by turn, the stories in A. L. Kennedy's new collection confirm her reputation as one of the most exciting new writers to have appeared in the past decade. Exposing and exploring the sinuous undercurrents of violence, anguish and love, she examines the nature of the individual, both in isolation and society, as characters define and deny their chosen identities. While showing us the unlikeliness of intimacy and the impossibility of communications, Kennedy also reveals the subversive liberation of impotence, the humour of discomfort as human beings chafe together, the crazed claustrophobia of the family and the wildly funny results of an eccentricity unleased - the guru who recommends his disciples follow the example of the penguin, or the mordant and brilliant 'Mouseboks Family Dictionary' where LIFE is crossed referenced to Bad Joke and WHAT YOU DESERVE. Told with economy, dramatic insight and enormous empathy, these stories demonstrate a radiant and versatile talent: a writer who has the rare gift of understanding, in equal parts, elation and despair.

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