Their narrative acquires weight from the annotations, which document Kandasamy’s struggle watching political events from afar, seeing friends killed and arrested. She grew up in Tamil Nadu and became a leftwing activist, but now lives in London. Kandasamy worries about absenting herself from the fight and the inadequacy of fiction: “My concerns and my solidarity align with the oppressed and the exploited. And yet, creating art under capitalism, I sit here, playing with form, with format, with fonts.” She craves the “refuge” fiction can provide, but recognises the need to bear witness to reality.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5