41 comments on “Girl by Edna O’Brien | Book Review

  1. Oh no – this sounds awful. It’s really unfortunate that it seems to be riddled with writing problems even aside from the broader debate about authorship.

  2. Hmmm, based on the reviews so far, I am not particularly convinced I have to read anything from the longlist. Just saying 😉 Fingers crossed, it gets better!

  3. Shame this didn’t work for you Callum – I have it in my TBR, but I’m not rushing to it. Would you be happy for me to share on the Reading Ireland Month link up?

  4. I appreciate your balanced approach to talking about this book. There’s no easy way to tell a story like this and it does need to be told but the question of who should tell it is tricky. I guess we can hope that it opens doors for survivors to tell their own stories. My major problem with O’Brien previously was how violent the book was so I know this one isn’t for me.

    • That my hope precisely; that this will have sparked enough conversation that survivors and/or native Nigerian writers will feel buoyed to explore the events from their own perspective (and that Western publishers pay attention).

      • Yes, absolutely. There’s seems to be more and more fiction coming out of Nigeria (at least making its way to the Western World) now that hopefully a writer closer to the culture and story can tell their perspective.

  5. Ohh that does not sound so good at all! It sounds dreadful that a topic that was not hers to write about in the first place (in my opinion) was not given the nuance it clearly needs. I have strong reservations about reading this at all, but I think I will end up picking it up. Great review!

  6. Great review! I am certain I wouldn’t like this book and currently I am leaning towards only reading it if it is shortlisted. Everything about this sounds dreadful – and I wasn’t on board with the book before.

  7. This review is SO GOOD omg – we said a lot of the same things but you handled the authorship question a lot better. Bummer that this book fell short in so many different areas.

  8. This is such a good review! I am now even more worried about this one. The biggest issue for me was what her voice brings to this topic and I am sad there wasn’t enough nuance there.

  9. Great review Callum! I’ve read O’Brien’s short stories before, and she was great when she stuck to Ireland. When I saw this on the longlist and learned that it wasn’t an own-voices novel, I was immediately leery of it, and your review about her stylistic choices for portraying the horror just confirms my suspicion. I’m thinking that it might be typical for an outsider of the culture to portray the horror in exactly that way – exaggerating the horrific – without an ear for the subtleties of the experience. I don’t think I’ll be picking this up. Hope your next read will be better. 🙂

    • Thank you! I hoped I could be won round, but sadly my concerns were merely confirmed. At least the attention this is getting might lead to actual survivors and native Nigerian writers having their interpretation of events published.

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  14. Ah, this book sounds like such a disappointing collection of subpar elements. :/ I was hoping there would turn out to be some sort of positive surprise here, but apparently not. It’s a good thing it’s short at least, I will probably try to pick it up soon to get it out of the way. Great review!

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  27. Thank you for this review. I have to say I totally agree that some people just should not write certain stories – they are not the people to tell them, and therefore it is understandable that they are unable to bring appropriate depth and nuance to them. Her voice could be used to amplify authors who wouldn’t otherwise get the platform – I think that would have been a better way for her to engage with this issue. I’ll be giving this one a miss!

    • My pleasure! I totally agree; I can appreciate her intention in wanting to highlight the issues the book explores, but she’d have been better placed to champion some own voice literature that tackles the topic instead.

  28. That’s wild. I’m actually reading another one of her books, Wild Decembers, and despite them being two totally different books, I feel the same way about it as you did with Girl-little emotional connection and character development. Great review!

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