Review: The Chernobyl Privileges by Alex Lockwood
This is a novel about bonds: those of blood and those that bind particles in the nucleus of an atom – and about the forces that break each apart. It is narrated from the point of view of Anthony, both in the current narrative time and during his childhood and shows how incidents in his adult life force him to face what happened in the past. It deals sensitively with that instinct for self-preservation that causes distance to open up between people. The moments when Anthony could have drawn closer to those he loves yet fails to do so multiply, and the reader is right there looking across the widening gulf and weighing up each choice and decision with him. The reasons that prevent people from choosing to alleviate their own suffering are thrown into stark relief, and we see how, at a time of crisis, political forces can seek to exploit human vulnerabilities for their own ends.
Alex is a superb craftsman, holding back the increasingly inevitable; when they come, acts both small and life-changing strike the reader with a terribly poignancy. A compelling read, this is a novel for the present moment with intimations of how little, it seems, we have learned. http://alexlockwood.co.uk