dimanche 3 juillet 2016

Soapless Cities

Just when you thought Jane Austin's Marianne Dashwood reflected the ultimate in unrequited love, in Soapless City, by Jamesola Langola, we witness Nigel, an ambitious dry cleaner in the south of London, who has fallen for Mary, a voluptuous marketing assistant at Clive Christian perfumes. With heart-rending tension from the families who oppose each other for political beliefs (Mary is out and Nigel in) this sexually charged novel is peppered by Brexit: with all european trade deals gone bonkers neither Nigel nor Mary (nor any Brit for the record) can wash themselves. Mary qualifies her fiancé as a "stinking mule" but she falls in her own trap because she starts to stink too. Can they both go on stinking and hating each other? Who can save this relationship? Questions and mysteries abound and the ice becomes constantly thinner between the protagonists as time goes on.

Yet somewhere in a dark basement in Sussex a certain Tony, a scientist with a big ambition and even a bigger mouth, is working frantically to produce a new soap. A soap that does all. A soap that washes all. A soap so powerful it calls itself "Powerbull". 

Still, will this soap get on the shelves of the Icelandic frozen food chain before Mary and Nigel separate? And what about the English national football team? What about it?
As Brexit turns London and other metropolises into "Soapless Cities" and tense battling fields, Mary and Nigel's egg-breaking relationship is just a detail like a painting of Bruegel's.

Langola's  writing courses like a river, sometimes black with mud, sludge and stains, sometimes bright with moon bleach. Danger of love is omnipresent, even after combat recedes; nature careless and the lack of soap is monumental. "This is the novel of the century" offering hallucinations caused by privation, be it physical detergent or hunger or erotic yearning of the soul they are unapologetically evoked in this masterpiece. Langola exploits Brexits aftershocks in the sumptuous futuristic dystopian novel that one loves as an allergy loves a sneeze. Not since Tale of Two Cities has literature reached such a level.

A Booker Prize runner up. The Gardian.