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theguardian - 9 days ago

Peace Talks by Tim Finch review – a moving study of love and loss

A European arbitrator leading Middle East negotiations grieves for his wife in a low-key but profound novel about human frailty
One of the striking things about Tim Finch’s 2013 first novel, The House of Journalists, was the degree to which his characters colluded in what was unsayable. This did not include extreme violence – in the London house of the title, which sheltered writers and journalists fleeing repressive regimes, trauma was cu it got the inhabitants their visas, shored up their brittle fame. But voice after interior voice was saturated with knowingness about the ways in which everyone was playing everyone the small necessary s the idea of story as a commodity, on every possible level – which did not, importantly, make the stories untrue.The novel was especially concerned with the business of liberal do-gooding, and of a certain subset of writing about refugees, whether in memoir, fiction or poetry: the vanities and anxieties and ruthlessnesses of acquiring and marketing and (unconsciously or otherwise) massaging for public consumption the narratives of those to whom terrible things had happened. It was as though Finch – who was a BBC political journalist and a director of the Refugee Council, and then went on to establish two charities, one of which is called Sponsor Refugees – had collected up a whole working lifetime of things he couldn’t say out loud and tipped them all into a furiously satirical, self-consciously metacritical novel. Continue reading...


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