Elizabeth Howcroft

In a Fix

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr


Granta Books 153pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Few pieces of writing merit the word Kafkaesque, but the opening of Tom Lee’s first novel, The Alarming Palsy of James Orr, might be one of them: ‘When James Orr woke up, a little later than usual, he had the sense that there was something not quite right, some indefinable shift in the normal order of things.’ The protagonist experiences a sudden onset of Bell’s palsy, a form of facial paralysis. The condition is uncommon and its duration indefinite, but his doctor is nonetheless light-hearted. ‘In the long run,’ James is told, ‘only a small percentage do not return to more or less normal.’

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