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A woman confronts the most important question of her life in this blistering, fearless, and unforgettable literary debut from "a stunning new writer." (Bernardine Evaristo)

"A modern Mrs. Dalloway."—The Guardian

"The literary debut of the summer."—Vogue

“The kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.”—Ali Smith, author of Summer

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.
 

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

“Natasha Brown’s exquisite prose, daring structure and understated elegance are utterly captivating. She is a stunning new writer.”
 —BERNARDINE EVARISTO, Booker Prize-winning author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
“Mind-bending and utterly original. Assembly is like Thomas Bernhard in the key of Rachel Cusk but about black subjectivity.”
 —BRANDON TAYLOR, author of REAL LIFE and FILTHY ANIMALS
Assembly is brilliant. Brown’s gaze is piercing. Each sentence is a perfectly polished jewel.”—AVNI DOSHI, author of BURNT SUGAR
“A modern Mrs. Dalloway…a short sharp shock of a novel… Assembly fulfils, with exquisite precision, Virginia Woolf’s exhortation to ‘record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall’ …Text that is sparse on the page expands on consumption; it swells like a sponge in the mind… Assembly is the kind of novel we might have got if Woolf had collaborated with Fanon, except that I don’t think either ever reined in their sentences the way Brown does here, atomising language as well as thought…Brown nudges us, with this merging of form and content, towards an expression of the inexpressible – towards feeling rather than thought, as if we are navigating the collapsing boundaries between the narrator’s consciousness and our own.”—THE GUARDIAN
“A quiet, measured call to revolution…[Assembly is] slim in the hand, but its impact is massive; it strikes me as the kind of book that sits on the faultline between a before and an after. I could use words like elegant and brilliantly judged and literary antecedents such as Katherine Mansfield/Toni Morrison/Claudia Rankine. But it’s simpler than that. I’m full of hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.”—ALI SMITH, author of SUMMER
Assembly is an astonishing work. Formally innovative, as beautiful as it is coolly devastating, urgent and utterly precise on what it means to be alive now.”
 —SOPHIE MACKINTOSH, author of THE WATER CURE
“Assembly captures the sickening weightlessness a Black British woman, who has been obedient to and complicit with the capitalist system, experiences as she makes life decisions under pressure from the hegemony. Stripped back to prose poetry and at times plainly essayistic, this is a bold and elegant statement, all the more powerful for its brevity.”—PAUL MENDEZ, author of RAINBOW MILK
“This slimline novel may be minuscule at just over 100 pages, but it packs an oversized punch. A nuanced, form-redefining exploration on class, work, gender and race, Brown’s debut has already garnered mass hype from the industry.”—HARPER’S BAZAAR
“A sharp, experimental novel about a Black British woman who did everything right, and yet still, when faced with her mortality, isn’t sure her life is worth hanging on to. Clocking in at a mere 112 pages, this critique of British racism and the ‘culture of more’ can be read in an afternoon, and should be.”—LITERARY HUB (Most Anticipated Books of the Year)
“Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society: how it has poisoned even our language, making its necessary dismantling almost the stuff of dreams. I take hope from Assembly, not just for our literature but also for our slow awakening.”—DIANA EVANS, author of ORDINARY PEOPLE
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