The Evening Road by Laird Hunt - review by Clare Clark

Clare Clark

Murder Most Foul

The Evening Road


Chatto & Windus 278pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

In a high-profile speech at last year’s Brisbane Writers Festival, Lionel Shriver tackled with her usual candour the question of cultural appropriation in fiction. Her assertion that cultural appropriation is the fundamental business of fiction, that any story worth its salt is by necessity peopled with characters who are not the writer and who do not share the writer’s experiences, provoked much comment. Less widely discussed was her admission that what she called ‘this climate of scrutiny’ has affected her own writing, so that, over the last ten years, she has become much more chary of depicting characters of different races in her novels. ‘Availing yourself of a diverse cast, you are not free; you have inadvertently invited a host of regulations upon your head, as if just having joined the EU,’ she claimed. ‘Use different races, ethnicities, and minority gender identities, and you are being watched.’ 

One cannot help wondering whether Laird Hunt would agree. A white middle-aged American man, he has sought in his last three novels to explore the USA’s troubled past from the viewpoint of those to whom conventional histories have denied a voice. It hardly needs saying that his protagonists

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