Emma Jane Unsworth - Animals (4 stars)

Emma Jane Unsworth - Animals

A gripping, raucous read from one of Britain’s most promising young writers

In Emma Jane Unsworth’s gloriously debauched and wonderfully touching second novel, semi-reformed party girl Laura is torn between a bacchanalian existence with Holly Golightly-on-speed best friend Tyler and her upcoming marriage to boringly stable musician Jim. He wants her to give up the booze, Tyler wants her to share the enormous jar of MDMA she’s stolen from a drug dealer and Laura just wants to be left in peace to finish the novel she’s been struggling with for years.

Novels about drunken exploits are rarely as entertaining as they think they are – much like the friend at a party who’s had one too many, they mistake indulgence for profundity and think paragraphs humblebragging about their drug and alcohol consumption make them edgy – but Animals is a welcome exception to the rule as Laura tries to choose between two kinds of oblivion. While Unsworth treads a familiar path, she makes it her own with deft, self-skewering prose, evoking Gwendoline Riley rather than Lena Dunham. A gripping, raucous read from one of Britain’s most promising young writers.

Published on Thu 1 May by Canongate.

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