Clay by Melissa Harrison
A Novel

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I like what this novel is trying to do, in bringing an environmental consciousness to 21st-century urban life. But it is not without flaws. Linda's shortlived conversion from rampant consumerist to gardening enthusiast is too obviously determined...
-Guardian

Synopsis

The city is a strange place for Jozef. After living in a Polish village for much of his life, he is struggling to adjust to the tall, grey landscape of apartment living, and his job in a local deli serving french fries and fried chicken to brash, self-assured children makes him feel even more disconnected from the surrounding population. It is only when he encounters TC, a troubled boy running away from school, that Jozef finds a kindred spirit with whom he can share his fascination with the natural world.

The two are noticed in a small litter-strewn park by a friendly local, the elderly and recently widowed Sophia, who has been attempting to spark an interest in nature in her granddaughter, Daisy. While Sophia sends Daisy letters each week about the growth of the flowers in the park, Jozef attempts to extract, over games of chess, the details of TC's troubled home life-left broken by the departure of the boy's father. Like leaves twisting in the wind, the lives of these four figures are blown together, defying the gravity affecting the world around them. That is, until the pressures of modern life intervene.

A beautiful debut novel reflecting the destructive nature of humanity, and the indelible effects people can have on the environment and those around them, Clay poetically captures the delicate balances of life in the city, between young and old, between nature and development, between recklessness and caution.
 

About Melissa Harrison

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Melissa Harrison was born in Great Britain in 1975, and is the youngest child in a family of six. She studied English at Oxford and graduated with first class honors in 1996. She has worked as a book and magazine editor and currently writes for Time Out, Stuff, and The Guardian. Melissa lives in South London with her husband, Anthony, and rescue dog, Scout. She writes about her local environment on her website, Tales of the City: http://www.talesofthecity.co.uk.
 
Published February 19, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA. 273 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Susanna Rustin on Jan 25 2013

I like what this novel is trying to do, in bringing an environmental consciousness to 21st-century urban life. But it is not without flaws. Linda's shortlived conversion from rampant consumerist to gardening enthusiast is too obviously determined...

Read Full Review of Clay: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

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