Edmund Gordon

Kilburn Calling

NW

By

Hamish Hamilton 295pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

In 2008, Zadie Smith published an essay in the New York Review of Books under the hiply doctrinaire title ‘Two Paths for the Novel’. In it, she chides a tradition she calls ‘lyrical Realism’ – a tradition characterised by a belief in ‘the transcendent importance of form, the incantatory power of language to reveal truth, the essential fullness and continuity of the self’ – for being ‘inauthentic’ and ‘consoling’. ‘I have written in this tradition myself’, she admits, ‘and cautiously hope for its survival, but if it’s to survive, lyrical Realists will have to push a little harder on their subject.’ She quotes a passage from Joseph O’Neill’s novel Netherland that she sees as typical of ‘lyrical Realism’, and poses a few questions she reckons it fails to engage with:

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,