Higher Ed

READING GROUP GUIDE: Higher Ed by Tessa McWatt

Article published on September 1, 2015.

London. Now. And here come the new Londoners.

Francine would prefer to be thinner, but is happy enough to suffer her boss’ manhandling of her ample hips if it helps her survive the next cull in Quality Assurance. She just wishes she could get the dead biker’s crushed face out of her mind’s eye.

Robin is having a baby with the wrong woman, wishes he were with the perfect Polish waitress instead, leans hard on Deleuze for understanding, and wonders if his work in film will continue to be valued by the university management.

Olivia is angry – angry with her layabout mother, with her too-casual BFF, and with her own timidity and anxiety. Perhaps the wisest of her lecturers will help? Knowledge is Power, right? And she’s beautiful when she’s angry.

Ed wishes he’d never gone back to Guyana to help his rass brother as it lost him his mini-Marilyn wife and the possibility of watching his only child grow up – until someone surprising crops up at the crematorium.

Katrin is starting not to miss Gdansk or Mamunia so much, and starting to understand London living. But if she works and hopes harder, maybe she’ll secure a full British future for herself and her mother with the Good Englishman.


Tessa McWattAuthor Tessa McWatt introduces the background to her new novel, Higher Ed, in the summer issue of nb magazine (available now from the nudge shop).

She also included a few questions to prompt a reading group discussion, reproduced below:

  • The ways in which people are connected beneath the surface form the central themes of the novel. What do you think about these connections? Are they ones we all share?
  • The novel looks as how some people come to terms with loss. What are the losses and gains that are revealed in the novel? What do they reveal about the characters?
  • The economic issues in the novel are not specific to times of austerity; they explore how people relate to work and their purpose in a community. What are the main socio-political issues that the novel engages in through its characters? How are these issues played out in the narrative? Are there any conclusions?
Higher Ed by Tessa McWatt, published by Scribe on 27 August, 2015


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