From a stunning new voice, a debut novel that, like Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Monica Ali's Brick Lane, confronts the multi-racial realities of modern Britain with humour, grace, and lyrical intensity.
Identical twins Georgia and Bessi live in the loft of 26 Waifer Avenue in Neasden, London. It is their place, one of strawberry-scented beanbag chair, a view of the apple trees, and very important decisions, and all visitors must knock on the door marked 26a before entering.
Downstairs is a less harmonious world: Ida, the twins’ Nigerian mother, puts cayenne pepper on Yorkshire pudding and can only assuage her bouts of desperate homesickness with five-hour baths and long conversations in Edo with her own absent mother; Aubrey, their Derbyshire-born father, shouts “Haddock!” in frustration with his house full of women, and angrily roams the streets of Neasden to escape his demons. Older sister Bel discovers sex, high heels, and organic hairdressing, and baby sister Kemy is obsessed with Michael Jackson. The twins plan their own flapjack empire as the ticket to a shining future for two.
But as Georgia and Bessi grow up, discovering the temptations and dangers of London in the 1980s and 90s, the realities of separateness and of solitude crowd in. Each must decide on her own path to adulthood and pursue it — and discover if she can face the future as only one.
Wickedly funny and devastatingly moving, 26a is part fairytale, part nightmare. It moves from the mundane to the magical, the particular to the universal with exceptional flair and imagination. It is for everyone who remembers their childhood, and anyone who knows what it is to lose it.
On the outside of their front door Georgia and Bessi had written in chalk ‘26a,’ and on the inside ‘G&B,’ at eye level, just above the handle. This was the extra dimension. The one after sight, sound, smell, touch and taste where the world multiplied and exploded because it was the sum of two people. Bright was twice as bright. All the colours were extra. Girls with umbrellas skipped across the wallpaper and Georgia and Bessi could hear them laughing.
—Excerpt from 26a
From the Hardcover edition.
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