A unique and inventive story, Still Life’s detailing of an author attempting to write a biography about forgotten Scottish poet Thomas Pringle forms the subject for this novel from Zoe Wicomb. Set primarily in modern-day London, the story is narrated by a mixed cast of characters including West Indian slave Mary Prince, Pringle’s adopted South African son Hinza (Wicomb is also South African), and Sir Nicholas Green, a character from the pages of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando – along with the narrator, who is writing the biography.
The mix of different voices creates different layers, offering a variety of perspectives about colonial history and racial oppression experienced, and with different layers conveying different messages throughout. It’s not surprising that the author was awarded the Windham Campbell prize for fiction with the exquisite prose and the original concept of this particular fiction.
Occasionally I found the form and jumps in time to be slightly disconcerting, but it wasn’t long before I re-acclimatised to the thread of the story. Combining the past and the present, the thought-provoking read raises many questions, but ultimately Still Life is an intriguing and entertaining novel from Wicomb.
Still Life, Zoe Wicomb (Peninsula Press)
Price: £10.99. Info: here
words RHIANON HOLLEY
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