Sunday 4 March 2018

The Hope & Anchor by Julia Kite @juliakite #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #HopeAndAnchor @Unbounders

In the depths of winter in West London, Neely Sharpe's life is turned upside down: not only has her career reached a dead end, but her girlfriend, Angela, has vanished. In desperation, Neely scours the city to try and find out what has happened, travelling from London's pubs and snowy streets, down to the depths of the sewers. As her hunt continues, networks of friends, family, and old adversaries become entangled and she ends up delving into Angela's past. Nothing could prepare her for what she will discover about the hidden life of the woman she loves. The Hope & Anchor is an atmospheric debut novel which captures the dreams London holds for its natives and newcomers alike, and investigates what happens when the dreamers finally have to wake up.

The Hope And Anchor by Julia Kite was published by Unbound on 8 February 2018. I'm really thrilled to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour.

She's talking to us about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Julia Kite

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
Twenty-one-year-old Scottish supermarket worker Morvern, who has little in terms of education or aspirations but finds a soundtrack to every day of her life, is probably my favourite narrator of all time. Warner has an uncanny knack for writing believable female voices, so I think of Morvern whenever I hear people argue you should only write from your own identity. Bollocks to that! When you’re as talented as Alan Warner - or even if you just wish you were - you can write from the perspective of whomever you want. Morvern as a character is fascinating because she’s really not the sharpest knife in the drawer, her sense of morality (or lack thereof) is bizarre, and her affect is very flat. I mean, she finds her boyfriend dead on the kitchen floor, and after a quick cry, she goes and takes a bath and opens Christmas presents and heads off to work. Not the reaction a reasonable person would have, and you want to shake some sense into her - but she’s utterly captivating and makes you hang on her every action. She makes you think, why shouldn’t someone reach out and grab what they want when it’s right in front of them?

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Swing Time is probably her best novel, but White Teeth was where it all started and I’ve loved Zadie Smith since I picked up this book as a teenager. Her gift for setting means that people who have never set foot within a thousand miles of Willesden can still get a vivid feel for the place. Smith also manages to write about complex topics like race without ever seeming didactic or like she’s trying to beat you over the head with what your viewpoint should be. Not only is she a very intelligent woman, but she trusts her audiences to be intelligent, too – and that makes all the difference.

Crossing California by Adam Langer
Usually I read to explore unfamiliar places. However, what I love so much about Crossing California is that it is set in a neighborhood of Chicago where I lived as a child, only the action is taking place a few years before I was born. It’s fascinating to look at a familiar place through someone else’s eyes, knowing that I was in it somewhere between the action of the book and the reality of the present. This is one of the few books that feels authentic to the assimilated-yet-ethnic Jewish community in which I grew up, and I can laugh as I see bits of myself in the characters and picture every landmark. When Jill Wasserstrom is creeped out by the words of Adon Olam I just want to sit next to her and chat for hours and ask her where the hell she was when I was a kid.

The Lights Below by Carl MacDougall
The three pages in this book describing the West End of Glasgow are some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful passages ever written in the English language about a city. Seriously, I think I might just photocopy them and shove them at anybody who ever questions why I have no intention of moving to the suburbs. “This city and all cities belong to those who search for something. For them it is the city of magnificent distances, the final destination.” Don’t get me wrong, the entire novel is fantastic – a man rebuilding his life after spending two years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – but my god, I want to cry every time I get to that bit that starts with how no one is born in the West End of Glasgow, continues through the tragedy of how the commuter never has seen a seagull raise its beak in the middle of Springburn, and ends with how students look out their windows at Byres Road and own all they see. Oh, that’s me tearing up now…

The Damned United by David Peace
Football and great literature definitely do mix. This book is a fictionalised account of the legendary Brian Clough’s 44-day tenure at Leeds United, told in the imagined voice of the man himself, and it’s creative and touching and brilliant as a psychological study. David Peace’s unique writing style, with phrases repeated like mantras, can take some getting used to, but when you read the passages aloud you understand how much care he has taken as a writer to choose every word with laser-sharp precision. He takes absolutely nothing for granted.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
I’m glad I took a risk on this book. At first glance, it is something I wouldn’t read. At second, third, tenth, it’s still not something I’d typically read - a relentless bloodbath, non-stop violence. But out of pure curiosity after he won the Booker Prize, I started reading and couldn’t put it down. Bravo to Marlon James for pushing me out of my comfort zone with this complex, riveting book.

Random Family by Adrien Nicole Leblanc
This one isn’t fiction, but it reads like a novel. Leblanc’s participant-observation study of poverty and social ties in the South Bronx during the 80s and 90s is the kind of book I wanted to write when I was an academic – something that clearly communicated complex social issues to the layperson while also being a hell of a good read. It’s a testament to the power of the written word.

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
What all the other books on the list have in common is that I could pick them up anytime and read them again and again. Not this one. I never, ever want to revisit this text due to the subject matter, but I’m glad I read it as a work of literature. Amis’ immense talent as a writer is that he is able to make a reader see a character who personifies pure evil as a fully fleshed-out human being, not a caricature easily dismissed as an unrealistic monster. His Nazis are horrifically human. A repulsive subject, in the hands of a skilled author, becomes readable. Part of my family comes from within the actual Auschwitz “Zone of Interest” - the eastern outskirts of Oswiecim, Poland - and it’s chilling to have these characters talking about it. Fiction can sometimes be too real, but I’m glad books like this exist to force readers to confront the past.

Julia Kite - March 2018 

Julia Kite lives in Manhattan, and calls New York City and London home. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Obsessed with cities and the people in them, she started her career researching housing and urban regeneration, and she now directs policy and research for a transportation improvement organisation. Before she began working to make New York City’s streets better for cyclists, she was taking long rides along the Grand Union Canal in West London. She is a member of the Columbia Fiction Foundry, an alumna of quiz shows The Chase and Jeopardy, an urban wildlife rehabilitator, a keen amateur baker, and the owner of an opinionated parrot. The Hope and Anchor is her first novel, a work of fiction about a very real place she holds dear.

For more information visit :
Twitter @juliakite

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