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This Brutal House: Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2019

Niven Govinden

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A timely queer protest novel set in the drag ball community of New York City, from a Green Carnation Prize-shortlisted author

SHORTLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2019

'A true force of fierceness and beauty' OLIVIA LAING

'A vital book' ANDREW MCMILLAN


'Vivid prose reinventing ideas of motherhood, belonging and taking us into the community of drag balls and protest, both personal and political' JENNI FAGAN

'This Brutal House leaves its reader full of a powerful, protesting energy' IRISH TIMES

'A powerful and poetic book' KERRY HUDSON

'This Brutal House shines a light on lives marginalised and magnificent' STEPHEN KELMAN

On the steps of New York's City Hall, five ageing Mothers sit in silent protest. They are the guardians of the vogue ball community - queer men who opened their hearts and homes to countless lost Children, providing safe spaces for them to explore their true selves.

Through epochs of city nightlife, from draconian to liberal, the Children have been going missing; their absences ignored by the authorities and uninvestigated by the police. In a final act of dissent the Mothers have come to pray: to expose their personal struggle beneath our age of protest, and commemorate their loss until justice is served.

Watching from City Hall's windows is city clerk, Teddy. Raised by the Mothers, he is now charged with brokering an uneasy truce.

With echoes of James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson and Rachel Kushner, Niven Govinden asks what happens when a generation remembered for a single, lavish decade has been forced to grow up, and what it means to be a parent in a confused and complex society.

GUARDIAN MUST READ BOOKS OF 2019 / iNews BEST NEW FICTION 2019 / iD BOOKS TO READ IN 2019

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Praise for This Brutal House: Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2019

  • As we await the second season of the TV drama Pose, the award-winning author Govinden brings us a timely queer protest novel set in the drag ball community of New York City. Vivid and poetic, the story explores belonging, tolerance and what it means to be a parent in a confused and complex society - Sunday Times

  • [A] vibrant novel . . . Acerbic, encompassing, funny and mounting towards the spiritual, Govinden's book shows the complexity of drag balls and queer life. This is an important, and in places an experimental book, full of spark and wisdom. Its tone is in places elegiac, in others vibrant. Like the best drag acts, This Brutal House leaves its reader full of a powerful, protesting energy - Irish Times

  • Queer ball culture in New York has been explored recently in the TV show Pose, and in This Brutal House, Niven Govinden offers a different perspective - Stylist

  • A tale of voguing and protest - Guardian

  • This Brutal House is the finest novel to date from a brilliantly challenging, fearless and passionate writer - New Internationalist

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Niven Govinden

Niven Govinden is the author of four previous novels, most recently All The Days And Nights which was longlisted for the Folio Prize and shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize. His second novel Graffiti My Soul is about to go into film production. His third novel Black Bread White Beer won the 2013 Fiction Uncovered Prize. He was a judge for the 2017 4th Estate/Guardian B4ME Prize.

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