Naomi Kruger (Seren)
Naomi Kruger’s debut novel, May, is a triumph. We follow the contours of dementia through our primary character May over one day in an old age home. Her chapters form a series of memories and a stream of consciousness that represents the confusion and diaspora of thought as well as the poetic tragedy of the illness and the human condition.
May’s day is interspersed with flashbacks from the people relevant to her life and story. Each character is valuable within their own chapters and story, as well as to May’s life. They all work together as pieces of the great puzzle that is Kruger’s story. It is done with such craft that there remains a clear structure throughout, despite its largely non-linear progression.
I was incredibly impressed with the use of first-person speaker throughout the novel, regardless of which character was speaking. This isn’t an easy task, but it was necessary and effective in portraying each character’s unique thoughts, personalities and experiences. It can be difficult to maintain a clear voice from just one character, let alone multiple characters.
The characters deal with the unglamorous occurrences of life – unhappy marriages, prejudice, peer pressure, rebellion, anxiety and much more. The plot retains a consistent realism without ever seeming boring, and was always rich in complex emotions. This, however, meant that there were points at which I thought the writing was a bit too simple for the depth of the content.
The novel is contemporary, funny, relevant and personal. It was easy to read, and constantly engaging. Reading it was a pleasure. MEGAN THOMAS