Labour Day debate in Wellington

Book review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (Sceptre)

“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl,” opines the protagonist of The Other Hand. The pound coin has many advantages, not least of which is its effortless mobility:

“A girl like me gets stopped at immigration, but a pound can leap the turnstiles, and dodge the tackles of those big men with their uniform caps, and jump straight into a waiting airport taxi. Where to, sir? Western civilisation, my good man, and make it snappy.”

Little Bee is a Nigerian girl fleeing men armed with machetes and men armed with official powers. Sarah is a suburban career woman juggling a young son who refuses to take off his Batman suit with an extramarital affair with a Home Office functionary, Lawrence. Their lives are thrown together in an unlikely way, forcing them to confront themselves and the society they live in.

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