January 4th 2010
£7.99
336 pages
B-Format Paperback
ISBN
978 095564 767

Prizes

  • 2009 COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD WINNER
  • SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010 MCKITTERICK PRIZE
  • LONGLISTED FOR THE 2010 DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE

Beauty by Raphael Selbourne

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Captures the raw humanity of inner city life with extraordinary authenticity

Judges of the Costa First Novel Award

Selbourne brilliantly plays out a comedy of conflicting cultural and class expectations, repeatedly confounding reader’s expectations when contrasts between ‘white’ and ‘Asian’, ‘yob’ and ‘toff’ values threaten to become too obvious. He captures perfectly an England of pound shops and Jobcentres with ‘client beverage facilities’. Through Beauty herself, he gives the tale of the innocent abroad an original twist

Financial Times

Beauty – in both name and appearance – is a twenty-year-old Bangladeshi, back in England having disgraced her family by fleeing an abusive arranged marriage. Placed on the jobseekers’ treadmill, and under continuing domestic pressure, in desperation, she runs away.

Her encounters with officialdom, fellow claimants, and passers-by in the city streets, complicated by the restrictions and comfort of her language and culture, place her at the mercy of such unlikely helpers as Mark, a friendly, Staffordshire Bull Terrier-breeding ex-offender, and Peter, a middle-class underachiever on the rebound from a bitter relationship.

Determined and spirited, yet tormented by doubts, Beauty is forced to examine her own beliefs and think seriously about her future. While her brothers search for her across the city, the conflict between her desire for personal freedom and her sense of family duty deepens. What will she do?

A sharply rendered, compassionate and challenging portrait of a fragmented, multicultural urban England.

Selbourne’s depiction of the relationship between Beauty and Mark is touching – the innocence of their friendship is unexpected and sweetly convincing.

Observer

Shocking, explosive and tender – I could not put it down. Selbourne has a brilliant ear for dialogue and real compassion for his characters

Maggie Gee

Selbourne writes convincingly both of Beauty’s Bengali household and Mark’s working-class world of casual sex, pubs and hard manual labour. Grim and threatening, this first novel is also occasionally very funny.

Independent

Reader’s Comments

  1. Review in the Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/beauty-by-raphael-selbourne-1784393.html

    Luke Brown — 17th September 2009

  2. Great Q & A with Raphael Selbourne in Touchbase magazine - a West Midlands glossy lifestyle magazine - which you can find here: http://tiny.cc/NvB0Z

    Rikhi — 15th February 2010

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