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George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) was a great believer in the power of empathy to move her readers. Back when she was writing in the 19th century, empathy was generally known as ‘sympathy’.
This novel by Christopher Waking is right up there amongst my empathic favourites.
Elizabeth Taube is a chubby, unpretty teenager who falls in love with everyone- her piano teacher, the old man who takes her into the back of his store and dresses her in furs, and her smart, charismatic, beaten-down teacher, Max Stone.
What exactly does it mean to be human? Andrew Martin, a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, is not himself. This becomes clear when he’s found walking naked through the manicured grounds of his own college, apparently having suffered amnesia or nervous breakdown brought on by overwork.
Even the Dogs opens with the image of a man’s body being carried out of a broken-down house in the quiet days between Christmas and the New Year- but who’s the semi-homeless man, Robert, and who’s telling his story?
‘Broken nose. Loose teeth. Cracked ribs. Broken finger. Black eyes.
There’s something about this book that breaks down the wall of fiction and leaves the reader feeling viscerally overwhelmed by what they‘ve just read.
"Six-year-old Nakhle Karam, Niko for short, is anxiously awaiting the birth of a sibling, hoping against hope for a younger brother, but willing to be happy with a sister.