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One Of Us Paperback – March 24, 2012
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I read this in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down. One of the best books I've read this year. Anna, the story's main character, might be one of the "invisible" people, but she possesses a resilience and inner strength that makes her stand out. The writing is evocative and emotion-charged without being melodramatic. Details bring it to life. I can see why it was shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger award.
The story is told in the first person, and Rowan's depiction of Anna's point of view and character is accomplished and spot on. The characterisation of the others in the book, and the depiction of their changing relationships to Anna, is also extremely well done. The book takes a particularly adult and realistic at how friendship (as opposed to romantic attachment)comes about and falls apart. Despite, or perhaps because of, the first-person narrative the prose of the novel fizzes with great turns of phrase, acute observations, and sarcastic dialogue.
What really sets this book apart is its viewpoint - there's a palpable sense of anger at the way people like Anna are treated: the ignorance, the casual racism, the refusal to see. It's this that underpins the plot's twists and turns, and makes for a book both exciting and moving.
As I said, a blinder.
A compelling glimpse into a world everyday people never see. A fantastic debut by Iain Rowan.
I first came across Iain Rowan (or IF Rowan) when I read Welcome To The Underworld- a collection of four beautifully written comic short stories about a wandering charlatan that are set in a mythical Chinese past.
This book is poles apart in content and style so I was even more impressed by how effortlessly he's carried off this taut and atmospheric portrayal of the 21st century European underworld of gangs, prostitution and people-trafficking.
Highly recommended. I definitely will be reading more of his books.