To celebrate Obama’s election, the Wiley brothers threw a party at their house in Crystal Palace. They lived near the park, where the transmitting tower loomed up towards the heavens like a lesser Eiffel, stern and metallic by day, red and lit up by night, overlooking the surrounding London boroughs and the home counties beyond, and harbouring in the germ land at its feet the remains of the former glass kingdom — the lake, the maze, the broken Greek statues, the eroded stone lions, and the dinosaurs made of old science.
– from Ordinary People by Diana Evans
So, what’s this one about?
Ordinary People follows the lives of two couples in London following Obama’s 2008 election in the United States. Diana Evans paints a portrait of middle-class, middle-aged London in the struggling marriages of Melissa and Michael and of Stephanie and Damian. Melissa feels she is losing herself and her independance to her new role as a mother and housewife, while her husband worries about the waning intimacy in their relationship; Stephanie, on the other hand, embraces motherhood in the suburbs. Holding a microscope over their lives, Evans examines the nuances of romance in the institution of marriage, picking apart issues of identity, parenthood, love, and the search for fulfilment. Ordinary People is a story about, well, ordinary people, and the trials, tribulations, and little things that make up everyday life.
Who’s it by?
Ordinary People was written by Diana Evans, author of bestselling novel 26a, winner of the Orange Award for New Writers, the Betty Trask Award, and the deciBel Writer of the Year award. Evans is English-Nigerian, born in Neasden and having spent part of her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria, she is now based in London. Evans is a writer, critic, and journalist with contributions to Marie Claire, The Guardian, and The Times, among other publications.
Why should I read it?
Ordinary People is conducted in an almost lyrical manner: Evans’ descriptions are poetic and elevate the mundane struggles of everyday life into something more than ordinary. She delicately weaves racial and political issues into the narrative without hitting the reader over the head. Evans writes “from inside the black experience,” yet doesn’t write explicitly about race. Rather, she feeds into her characters’ identities through their own commentaries and introspections on the world around them.
“I don’t think you can write about black characters without writing about race… but I don’t want my characters to be hidden by that,” Evans explains. “I want to write about the things that really fascinate me, like the experience of middle age identity crises. But race is a platform for all that.”
Ordinary People is birthed from a desire to capture the messiness of motherhood, conflict between maternity and feminism, and change in long-term relationships. Ordinary People is a slice of life for those wanting to step out of their own shoes and walk in another’s for a time.
When is it out?
Ordinary People was released on April 5th, 2018.
Where can I get a copy?
Ordinary People is available on Amazon and in all good bookshops.
Let us know if you get a copy, but more importantly, be sure to let us know what you think of the book!