Malkani’s follow- up to the ambitious Londonstani packs in some lively neologisms (tears are “eye-saliva”), and combines a hard-hitting account of the stresses felt by young carers with some sharp points about truth and value in the digital age. Unfortunately, the supporting cast don’t have any real life to them, and parts of Distortion are repetitive or just plain dull, as ideas or scenarios are played and replayed. Digital dependency may be at its heart, but this intriguing, messy novel is a little too easy to put down.
Coming 12 years after his acclaimed debut, Londonstani, Gautam Malkani’s second novel Distortion features a vivid argot, complicating and defamiliarising everyday terms and activities.
In its pages, young people do things in exciting new ways...
Malkani has tackled a great deal in Distortion: from under-appreciated, silent care work among low-income families to explorations of our use and reliance on technology. There are wider questions too about fake news, xenophobia and the rumour mill the internet both enables and, occasionally, debunks. It’s called the web for a reason, but there are some truths more nuanced than the internet can provide, no matter how many questions we tap into Google. Part post-truth nightmare, part social commentary, Distortion is an involved, complex book that rewards the close attention it deserves.