Publication Date: 03/06/2021 ISBN: 9780241515709 Category:


Natasha Brown

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 03/06/2021 ISBN: 9780241515709 Category:


Out of stock



The acclaimed word-of-mouth hit and break-out debut of the year.

Selected as a Book of the Year 2021 by booksellers, writers and readers:

Observer Best Books of 2021
Guardian Books of the Year
The i paper Books of the Year
New Statesman Book of the Year
Bad Form Book of the Year shortlist
Good Housekeeping Best Books of the Year
Goldsmiths Prize shortlist
Books Are My Bag Fiction Award shortlist
Foyles, Daunt Books, Ignota and Libraria ‘Book of the Year’ selection

‘Assembly left me breathless with admiration. It is the kind of book that makes you feel like we might not need any more novels now, because here is the perfect one’ Meg Mason, author of Sorrow and Bliss

‘Diamond-sharp, timely and urgent’ Observer, Best Debuts of 2021

‘Subtle, elegant, scorching… The literary debut of the summer’ Vogue

‘Virtuosic, exquisite, achingly unique’ Guardian

‘I’m full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible’ Ali Smith

‘Exquisite, daring, utterly captivating. A stunning new writer’ Bernardine Evaristo

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

‘One of the most talked-about debuts of the year . . . You’ll read it in one sitting’ Sunday Times Style

‘Expertly crafted, remarkable, astonishing… A literary debut with flavours of Jordan Peele’s Get Out’ Bookseller, Editor’s Choice

‘Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway meets Citizen by Claudia Rankine… As breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true’ Olivia Sudjic

‘Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society’ Diana Evans

‘This marvel of a novel manages to say all there is to say about Britain today’ Sabrina Mahfouz

Publisher Review

Diamond-sharp, timely and urgent... Written in a distilled, minimalist prose, Assembly is illuminating on everything from micro aggressions in the workplace, to the reality of living in the "hostile environment", to the legacy of British colonialism * Observer, Best Debuts of 2021 * Assembly is brilliant. Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway meets Citizen by Claudia Rankine. Natasha Brown's ability to slide between the tiniest, most telling detail and the edifice of history, the assemblage of so many lives in so many times and places, is as breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true -- Olivia Sudjic, author of 'Asylum Road' I read it compulsively in a single sitting. Assembly expertly draws out the difficulties of assembling a coherent self in the face of myriad structural oppressions. Casting a wry look at faded aristocrats, financial insiders and smug liberals, Natasha Brown takes the conventional tics of the English novel - the repressed emotion and clipped speech - and drains away the nostalgia. What's left is something hard and true -- Will Harris, author of 'Mixed Race Superman' and 'Rendang' Set over 24 hours as an unnamed Black British woman prepares to attend a garden party hosted by her boyfriend's wealthy parents. With a clear eye she assesses her experience of corporate culture with its embedded racism, her awful boss, the myth of true social mobility... A short but exceptionally powerful novel from a gifted new writer * Bookseller (Editor's Choice pick) * Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society: how it has poisoned even our language, making its necessary dismantling almost the stuff of dreams. I take hope from Assembly, not just for our literature but also for our slow awakening -- Diana Evans, author of 'Ordinary People' In this excoriating indictment of the white supremacy underpinning the office space, Natasha Brown shows us the triple bind under which Black British Women live. How can there be wholeness in a society which demands so often that Black women melt parts of themselves down so that the machinery can shape them anew? I have scarcely read a work of fiction which confronts me so clearly and viscerally with the nature of injustice in our contemporary moment. This is an important work from a writer I hope we'll be hearing from for a long, long time -- Kayo Chingonyi, author of 'A Blood Condition' Natasha Brown's exquisite prose, daring structure and understated elegance are utterly captivating. She is a stunning new writer -- Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize winning author of 'Girl, Woman, Other' This marvel of a novel manages to say all there is to say about Britain today in the most precise, poetic prose and within the story of one complicated, compelling woman. Formally thrilling, politically captivating, endlessly absorbing... I will never forget where I was when I read it, how I felt at the start of it and by the end - it takes you on a complete carousel of a life lived both in dread and in defiance. Superb. -- Sabrina Mahfouz, poet & playwright, 'A History of Water in the Middle East' Assembly is an astonishing work. Formally innovative, as beautiful as it is coolly devastating, urgent and utterly precise on what it means to be alive now -- Sophie Mackintosh, author of 'The Water Cure' Deft, essential, and a novel of poetic consideration, Assembly holds (the Black-British) identity in its hands, examining it until it becomes both truer and stranger - a question more than an answer. I nodded, I mhmmed, I sighed (and laughed knowingly, bitterly) -- Rachel Long, Folio Prize-shortlisted author of 'My Darling From the Lions' A piercing, cautionary tale about the costs of assimilating into a society still in denial about its colonial past. Brown writes with the deftness and insight of a poet -- Mary Jean Chan, author of 'Fleche' Bold, elegant, and all the more powerful for its brevity, Assembly captures the sickening weightlessness which a Black British woman, who has been obedient to and complicit with the capitalist system, experiences as she makes life-changing decisions under the pressure of the hegemony -- Paul Mendez, author of 'Rainbow Milk'

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