Review published on May 14, 2017.
The life and times of young Ellis Dau are encapsulated in this slightly surreal, but often hilarious, novel by journalist (and former chef!) Simon Wroe.
I took a while to work my way into the world of fictional Kyrzbekistan, where 16-year-old Ellis has been expelled from school and is grounded with his parents, Cornelius and Stella. With no access to his games console or it seems any direction in life, Ellis is taken into the offices of The Chronicle newspaper where his father is chief reporter.
As we get to meet the various characters in the newsroom and discover the country is being plunged into a nationalist fervour by the group called The 44 Horsemen, Ellis will experience grown-up worlds of threats and corruption, alongside his previously dismissed deep love for his parents and long established dodgy teenage antics with friend Vincent.
The author expertly links the workings of investigative journalists (who are themselves routinely flawed) to the right wing political undercurrents that we are all now seeing develop across Eastern Europe (if not with a hint here in the UK following Brexit).
I liked Ellis as the central character, but I do think the book may have more male appeal, although Wroe writes equally compassionately and with insight into his mother, his feisty love Joan (the oligarch’s daughter) and other women, who it seems in such societies are as usual dumped on the sidelines.
It’s certainly the first book this year that has come at me as a reader from a completely different angle in fiction. The author should be congratulated for making us all look at troubling times through the eyes of young Ellis.
It would be a challenge for book groups, but maybe one for encouraging young men to leave their screens and indulge in the written word in a novel.
Philipa Coughlan 4/3
Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe
W&N 9781474604956 hbk Apr 2017
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