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Pure, Fucking Profit

Joanna Biggs: ‘Assembly’, 15 July 2021

Assembly 
by Natasha Brown.
Hamish Hamilton, 105 pp., £12.99, June, 978 0 241 51570 9
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... uncertainty can no longer be found in a deck of cards, or anywhere else.The unnamed protagonist of Natasha Brown’s first novel, Assembly, isn’t the sort who would turn to a tarot reader. She went to Oxbridge, works in finance, owns her flat, employs a wealth manager. Her healthcare is private, and she quite likes going to her oncologist in Harley ...

The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... whom so many difficulties have been inflicted, his grandmother especially. She was born Princess Natasha Mestchersky in 1877. The youngest of eight children, she was awkward and shy, and at puberty she stopped eating. The doctors were summoned – ‘one so eminent he sent along an assistant beforehand to test the chairs he was to sit on’; they prescribed ...

Diary

John Lloyd: Long weekend in Yaroslavl, 20 July 1995

... it, and in the artefacts in the town’s museums. The friend – my closest Russian friend – was Natasha, a woman of nearly seventy who teaches at Moscow State University’s sociology faculty, a former Communist who was party secretary of her department until in 1990 she followed Yeltsin in breaking with the Party, and became an enthusiastic ...

Her Proper Duties

Tessa Hadley: Helen Simpson, 5 January 2006

Constitutional 
by Helen Simpson.
Cape, 144 pp., £14.99, December 2005, 0 224 07794 5
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... and coughs; picking up toys and agonising over delinquent tendencies. At the end of War and Peace, Natasha rushes out to show Pierre the colour of the stains on their baby’s nappy. The drive of the book has been against a current of free, dangerous sexuality and into the harbour of domestic life: what more could anyone wish for Pierre, for ...

Inner Mongolia

Tony Wood: Victor Pelevin, 10 June 1999

The Life of Insects 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Faber, 176 pp., £6.99, April 1999, 0 571 19405 2
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The Clay Machine-Gun 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Faber, 335 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 571 19406 0
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A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories 
by Victor Pelevin, translated by Andrew Bromfield.
Harbord, 191 pp., £9.99, May 1999, 1 899414 35 5
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... The oldest houses were from Stalin’s time – they towered up like wisdom teeth coated with the brown tarnish produced by many years of exposure to coarse shag tobacco ... Up in the sky the full moon blazed brightly like a dentist’s lamp. Pelevin’s popularity owes much to his comic talents and his satirical elegance; but his fiction also speaks to the ...

A Tale of Three Novels

Michael Holroyd: Violet Trefusis, 11 February 2010

... and Violet, who makes her appearance as an exotic Russian princess, Marousha Stanilovska Dagmar Natasha lliana Romanovitch – known as Sasha: Hot with skating and with love they would throw themselves down in some solitary reach, where the yellow osiers fringed the bank, and wrapped in a great fur cloak Orlando would take her in his arms, and know, for ...

Should we build a wall around North Wales?

Daniel Trilling: The Refugee Crisis, 13 July 2017

Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move 
by Reece Jones.
Verso, 208 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78478 471 3
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Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System 
by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 0 241 28923 5
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No Borders: The Politics of Immigration Control and Resistance 
by Natasha King.
Zed, 208 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78360 467 8
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... of migration between countries within Africa. Jones gives short shrift to scholars such as Wendy Brown, who argued in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010) that today’s border walls are a sign not of strength but that state sovereignty is being eroded by globalisation: they fulfil a psychological role, by providing a reassuring image of security to a ...

A Little Talk in Downing St

Bee Wilson, 17 November 2016

My Darling Mr Asquith: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Venetia Stanley 
by Stefan Buczacki.
Cato and Clarke, 464 pp., £28.99, April 2016, 978 0 9934186 0 0
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... married Churchill some thought that Venetia and Winston might make a match. She had long brown hair, a deep plummy voice, and was later said by Isaiah Berlin, who met her in Cambridge in the 1930s, to be a ‘handsome, smart, awful woman’. Whatever Venetia’s other callings – in middle age she took up aviation, and she had a passion for keeping ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... grabbed her father and they moved into the hall, Mr Jafari moving slowly, the only way he could. Natasha Elcock in Flat 82 had turned on all the taps and flooded the place before escaping down the stairs. Mr Jafari knew his legs wouldn’t take him down, so they got in the lift. It descended one floor and the doors opened onto the tenth, which was dense with ...

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