On Wandsworth Bridge by Hattie Pond - review by Violet Hudson

Violet Hudson

If Art Critics Ruled the World

On Wandsworth Bridge


Sylph Editions 351pp £14

On Wandsworth Bridge is many things. It is an acerbic satire on the art world. It is a sci-fi novel in which time travel features freely. It is a love story. It is a feminist exploration of the place of women in the world, now and in the future. It is a warning against cults and demagogues. But what it is mostly is a highly original, very strange, wonderful read.

The story opens with a gathering at an art gallery in a city called Lundenwic. Hugo de Lamartine – born Hugh Fisher – has recently published an incomprehensible book on photography entitled Trapped Light. Thanks to sentences such as ‘I am pressed into combat with a differing paradigm, my incorporeal self confronting the choppy waves of another reality’, he has gained access to the inner circle of the art world. He is a monstrous egomaniac and lazy to boot. He has changed his name to sound more exotic. At one point he asks, unironically, ‘can’t we talk about something more interesting … like Art or photography or me.’ Hugo is a poseur of preposterous proportions. He could be anyone at the opening night of a Mayfair exhibition.

Meanwhile, ‘elsewhen’, in a time-travelling vessel at the bottom of the Thames underneath Wandsworth Bridge, Sidney Ng and Posy Bollunk are tracking Hugo’s movements. They come from sixty years hence and know that Hugo will change the course of history. His inane pronouncements will lead to the creation

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