Natasha Brown's Assembly (Hamish Hamilton) saw a spike in reviews this week, despite its early June publication. The debut picked up new mentions in the Sunday Times, the Independent and the London Review of Books, adding to its earlier reviews in The Bookseller, the Guardian, the Observer and the i.
In the Sunday Times, Shabnom Khanom called the novel, which revolves around the unnamed protagonist’s transactional relationship with her wealthy white boyfriend, a "stunning portrayal of race and class set in the financial world" and said that the debut "heralds a powerful new voice in British literature". The Times' Siobhan Murphy also selected the title as a new fiction pick, calling it "extraordinary, each word weighed, each detail meticulously crafted".
In the London Review of Books, Joanna Biggs, called the novel a "simple, freighted story, but the simplicity of the narrative allows complexity in the form", and in the Independent, it was picked up as a top summer read. "Through sparse prose, Brown explores themes of race, class and freedom in a way that will stay with you long after you finish the book," said Prudence Wade.
Last month, The Bookseller's Alice O'Keeffe selected the title as an Editor's Choice, dubbing it a "short but exceptionally powerful novel from a gifted new writer". The debut was also a Fiction Book of the Day in the Guardian, where Sara Collins said that "Assembly feels achingly unique as it documents the experience of assimilation though the point of view of a well-to-do black British woman".
In non-fiction, Jeremy Farrar's timely Spike: The Virus vs. The People (Profile), picked up mentions in the Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard.
The infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust is the first to produce a true insider’s account of the British and international response to the emergency. In the Sunday Times, Ben Spencer said that despite some holes, this is "the best first-hand account of the first weeks of the pandemic published to date". Adding that it is "refreshingly undiplomatic, honest and brutal in its assessment". Over in the Times, Emma Duncan thought that Farrar's account of the pandemic showed that "the experts were just as befuddled as ministers".
In the Guardian, Spike was reviewed alongside Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green's Vaxxers as a Book of the Day and Debora MacKenzie called them "two urgent and fascinating accounts from the frontlines". Writing in the Daily Mail, Dominic Lawson said that "Farrar's role here is admirable, his criticism of Horton amply justified".
- Books in the Media: Whitehead shuffles into this week's reviews
- Books in the Media: Franzen's Crossroads heralded as his best yet
- Books in the Media: Children's books account for 4.9% of review space
- Books in the Media: le Carré's last dominates reviews to close career in style
- Books in the Media: Children's book reviews dip year on year