BOOK REVIEW: Assembly by Natasha Brown


5/5 stars

When was the last time a book punched you in the gut? Well, Assembly is about to be the next one.

This is a short novel, but an impactful one–a day-in-the-life narrative of a Black British woman, ascending the professional ladder and going to meet her white boyfriend in the Home Counties for a party at his family’s home. It’s a simple narrative, with a powerful narrator exploring the deep implications of life in the capital as a Black woman, especially with her recent promotion attracting significant attention from the “affirmative action is reverse racism” crowd.

This might not be the book for you if you like a lot of plot in your novels, but honestly, I’d encourage you to try it out anyway. It’s only 100 pages, with sparse yet powerful language and biting social commentary. Its comparison to Mrs Dalloway is an easy one, though its comparison to Get Out is a more frustrating one–publishing industry! Stop comparing books to Get Out if the only thing they have in common is a scene of a Black person attending a party!

Assembly is one of the first must-read debuts I’ve come across in a long time, and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand more about racism in the UK–and especially how it intersects with sexism.

Thank you to Penguin Random House/Hamish Hamilton for the gifted ARC.

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