Forest Gate book review

Forest Gate is everything a small novel about large-scale human calamity should be: brutal, beautiful and broken

Book review, Time In
Peter Akinti

4/5
Free Press

There’s a sense, from the very beginning, that Akinti won’t let up. His debut novel begins with all manner of pain: Meina, a Somali refugee, tells of being sold into marriage for a third time, to a rotten-toothed old man, her one comfort her brother Ashvin’s companionship. Flash forward three years, when Ashvin and his friend James stand on opposite towers in London, two partners in a suicide pact. Both jump: Ashvin breaks his neck and dies, James survives. From then on, Meina and James share narrator duties, and Akinti takes us on a rugged tour through both their lives to figure out why that pact was sealed.

Their shared tragedies pull James and Meina together – even when they don’t talk about what happened, there’s a common pain that passes like blood between them. Forest Gate is everything a small novel about large-scale human calamity should be: brutal, beautiful and broken.
Jonathan Messinger

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