Synopsis from Hachette Book Group:
Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?
Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.
About: Assembly is a British literary fiction written by Natasha Brown. It was recently published on 9/14/2021 by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, hardcover, 112 pages. The genres are African American, British contemporary, literary fiction, and novella. This novella is the author’s debut. According to the publisher’s website, “Our Vision: To be the #1 destination for authors, agents, customers, client publishers, and employees. To be a respected publisher that values diversity, nurtures talent, rewards success, and honors its responsibilities. To be market focused in all we do, and to lead change in popular culture. To anticipate change, foster creativity, and encourage risk-taking and innovation.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Assembly on 9/30/2021 and finished it on 10/5/2021. A unique read unlike other books, though I would prefer to know the woman and all characters’ names because it would be so much easier to understand. But somehow readers were only offered two names, Lou and Rach. Being watched at work is hard in general because there’s no privacy. I can understand why the woman felt dreadful all day at work. I would too because because I need my personal space especially sitting at the cubicle. Then they told her she should feel lucky that she got promoted but of course they informed her that it was to meet the diversity requirements instead of telling her that she did a great job at work. Then another co-worker thought she had it easy because she’s black because if take in consideration of qualifications, that man thought he’s more qualified than her.
This book started with a Black British woman telling the man to basically stop harassing her at work. He’s in his office watching her and calling her on the phone requesting her to perform little things for him. She felt humiliated. Then the story began, told in the first person point of view. The woman was at a school to give talks to show diversity at a workplace. Then she went back into work but also kept an eye out for Lou. She talked about growing up and living next to a cemetery. She talked about buying the top floor of an apartment and her neighbors. She talked about her boyfriend and her best friend Rach. Rach understood about workplace relationships because she’s currently experiencing it with one of the firm’s global department heads. The woman was nervous about attending her boyfriend’s parents’ anniversary party at their country estate coming tomorrow. She felt nervous especially because once his mom introduced her as the son’s latest lady-friend but also due to history of slavery in England. At the same time, she’s fighting a battle of workplace sexual harassment of her own. Until they promote her, just to meet the diversity quota.
Assembly was well written and a page turner. This book talked about a lot of different things, from England’s history to workplace sexual harassment to qualifications for promotions at work to wealth management to the woman’s health problems. I’m not sure who is “her” at the hospital she went to visit. One story to the next, page by page doesn’t connect so well so I get confused on what I’m reading. One page I was reading about England’s history, how African American were invited to come and then later England tell them to leave and Keep England White to Jamaica to a boy she knew at school. The organization of this book I’m not so hot for but her thoughts while walking her boyfriend’s country estate were fascinating to read. I recommend everyone to read this debut anyway.
I rate it 4 stars!
About the Author:
Natasha Brown has spent a decade working in financial services, after studying Maths at Cambridge University. She developed Assembly after receiving a 2019 London Writers Award in the literary fiction category. (Photo and info obtained from Hachette’s website).
More Information about Little, Brown and Company
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.