🏆 Winner of the 2023 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
“This is a first novel and an incredible accomplishment. If you wanted to put a label on it, it’s about the earliest gay liberation movements of the 1890s, at the time of the Oscar Wilde trial, when so much shame, fear and scandal was attached to even the most timid discussion of same-sex desire in British culture. It revives that moment and that atmosphere with enormous skill. It’s never anachronistic. It presents the experiences of the two central characters who are involved in trying to open the discussion around what would be called homosexuality or inversion at that time and bring it into the public realm.
It’s also a brilliant book about what it means to be an activist. It’s how for something so central to people’s identity, it becomes a compelling need but, at the same time, there’s something diminishing or disappointing about the fight, however much you feel you have to take it on. There is also, of course, the rather melancholy reflection that this is a book set in the mid-1890s and it took 70 more years before the laws on homosexuality in Britain were changed.”
Read expert recommendations