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The House of Journalistsby Tim Finch
Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to the House of Journalists. Who are you and what is your story?
These are the questions that confront newcomers to the House of Journalists, the internationally renowned refuge for writers in exile at the center of this haunting Orwellian novel. Home to a select group of fellows, the House is located in a fashionable London terrace. But just how stable is this hallowed institution? Julian Snowman, the obsessive founder and chair, sees the threat of dissolution at every turn. Perhaps this explains why petty rules and restrictions abide: men live in one wing, women in the other; smoking is restricted to the central courtyard; tea is optional, but everyone attends.
As the fellows strive to remake their lives, they are urged to share their tales. Epic and intimate by turns, these stories—of courage, tragedy, and shame—become a mesmerizing chorus of voices in search of home. Among the fellows are Mustapha, who yearns for the family he tore himself from when he resisted a coup; Agnes, a photojournalist implicated in a brutal civil war; Sonny, a slight figure with dont-mess-with-me hair, who describes a harrowing escape across continents; Edson, who perilously confides his story to his writing mentor; and Mr. Stan, who draws on the noxious cigarettes of his home island, despite having been tortured there.
Only one man manages to guard his past: the mysterious new fellow AA, whose secrecy ratchets up Julians paranoia. Julian suspects that AA is conspiring with a celebrated visiting writer to bring down the House. In fact, AA is planning something else entirely.
A world as beguiling as it is disturbing, Tim Finchs The House of Journalists is a novel of heartbreak, humanity, and wit, and announces the arrival of a striking new voice in fiction.
"The Prisoner meets The Imperfectionists in this confounding first novel from Finch, a former BBC journalist. Founded by Julian Snowman, London's House of Journalists exists as an officious sanctuary for writers who have fled despotic governments. Current inhabitants include Mr. Stan, whose tortured, twisted body is a warning of the dangers all outspoken journalists face; Mustapha, who left his family behind in the wake of a revolution; and Agnes, a photojournalist unable to take up her camera after recording atrocities. Into this group comes the standoffish journalist 'AA.' Julian thinks he's there to bring down the house, but AA's ultimate goal is more surprising than that. Finch's novel frustrates because the story is told by a series of narrators, and the voices are difficult to differentiate. The same holds true for the journalists' adventures, which are so generically described that they begin to sound alike. And although the author creates a Kafkaesque atmosphere in which K. would feel right at home, we get little sense of purpose. Some readers might appreciate a looming twist, but others will think it is not enough to rescue this novel from its confusion of intent. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A first novel about the universal condition of exile that conjures an unforgettable world
“Welcome to the House of Journalists. Who are you and what is your story?” Thus begins Tim Finchs haunting Orwellian novel set in a fashionable London terrace. The House of Journalists is renowned as a place of refuge for exiled writers who have fallen foul of oppressive regimes. Julian Snowman, its overzealous founder, struggles to preserve this sanctuary in a hostile political climate as he also strives to stabilize himself. Among the fellows are Mr. Stan, the affable former newspaperman whose hands were smashed with hammers; Mustapha, who is in denial about having been tortured; Agnes, a spirited young photojournalist whose grandfathers Pentax was crushed by heavy boots; and Sonny, who endured a harrowing journey to safety.
While the exiled fellows share their tales of tragedy and heroism and seek to capture a lost sense of home, domestic writers flock to the house, drawn by the power of stories far beyond experience. Only one man manages to guard his past, the mysterious new fellow, AA, whose secrecy ratchets up Julians paranoia about enemies out to undermine his creation. Julian suspects AA of conspiring with a visiting writer, the iconoclastic Ted Crumb. In fact, AA is plotting something else entirely.
A world as beguiling as it is disturbing, The House of Journalists is a novel about displacement, heartbreak, and humor that announces the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.
About the Author
Tim Finch works for a London think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. He was a BBC political journalist and is a former director of communications for the Refugee Council. The House of Journalists is his first novel.
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