Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"26a" by Diana Evans

“26a” – Diana Evans

Diana Evans’ debut is so sad, it had me sobbing on the sofa as I compulsively read and read it for hours at the weekend. When P came home he assumed something terrible had happened.

Evans, a former journalist, uses her natural talent for writing and a life-altering event in her past to construct a thinly veiled autobiographical book about twin sisters growing up in Neasden, with a homesick Nigerian mother, a drunken Yorkshire father and two feisty sisters.

“26a” covers a huge time span, from the early ‘80s to the late ‘90s, but at no point do you feel lost or like anything has been glossed over. And the intensity of the writing really helps you get inside the heads of twins Bessie and Georgia and catches you up in the ferocity of their emotions.

But please don’t think this is a hideous chick lit book (a phrase nearly as offensive as yummy mummy, argh), as this is far too intelligent. It may be along the same lines as Monica Ali, Zadie Smith, Meera Syal et al in that it covers problems of ethnicity in London, but Evans brings something new to the equation. The addition of twins makes “26a” a book with a split personality about two characters who are essentially the same person.

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