May 26 2013 Latest news:
Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Friday, July 6, 2012
A Private Business by Barbara Nadel uses the fertile and polarised lives of people in Newham as its backdrop at a time of great change.
Although the bare bones of the story - two private detectives hired to protect a female stand-up comedian- have the potential to carry rich, complex characters through an engaging script, the book’s strength lies in the its ability to look beyond stereotypes.
Nadel, who was born at the Old Wanstead Hospital, has spent decades in Newham, most recently watching the borough transform as the Olympic venues began taking shape.
She told the Recorder: “The book is based at the time of 2011 - at that point the Olympic site was going through such changes and new buildings were springing up all over the place. But as well as the Olympic site you had a lot of derelict buildings too, and the area still manages to retain its individuality.
“I have a passion for where I come from and I don’t like stock characters. My background is in psychology and I wanted to tackle various things: stereotypes, the changing face of the borough and the crime element- the fact that you can’t get away from your past.
“I wanted to bring my own experience with stalkers and people who have suffered from stalking, into this.”
Nadel’s pointed and sparse language weaves an uncomfortable tale that takes her characters across a landscape that features Canning Town, Silvertown, Forest Gate and West Ham.
But the book’s main strength is its mix of characters - there is Mumtaz, a Muslim woman raising a teenage stepdaughter, there is the priest Paul Grint and there is Maria - all of whom come alive and come off the pages despite the language.
Its not a light read, due to the subject matter, but anyone who perseveres with it through to the bitter end will be rewarded.
The book is published by Quercus and is priced £18.99 for a hardback and £12.99 for a paperback.