Assembly

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life.

Diamond-sharp, timely and urgentObserver, Best Debuts of 2021

‘Subtle, elegant, scorching… The literary debut of the summer’ Vogue

‘I’m full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible’ Ali Smith

‘Exquisite, daring, utterly captivating. A stunning new writer’ Bernardine Evaristo

‘One of the most talked-about debuts of the year . . . You’ll read it in one sitting’ Sunday Times Style

Expertly crafted, remarkable, astonishing… A literary debut with flavours of Jordan Peele’s Get OutBookseller, Editor’s Choice

‘Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway meets Citizen by Claudia Rankine… As breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true’ Olivia Sudjic

‘Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society’ Diana Evans


‘This marvel of a novel manages to say all there is to say about Britain today’ Sabrina Mahfouz

© Natasha Brown 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • Diamond-sharp, timely and urgent… Written in a distilled, minimalist prose, Assembly is illuminating on everything from micro aggressions in the workplace, to the reality of living in the “hostile environment”, to the legacy of British colonialism

    Observer, Best Debuts of 2021
  • A quiet, measured call to revolution. It’s about everything that has changed and still needs to change, socially, historically, politically, personally… Its impact is massive; it strikes me as the kind of book that sits on the faultline between a before and an after. I could use words like ‘elegant’ and ‘brilliantly judged’ and literary antecedents such as Katherine Mansfield/Toni Morrison/Claudia Rankine. But it’s simpler than that. I’m full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible

    Ali Smith, author of 'How to be both' and 'Summer'
  • In just 100 pages Natasha Brown delivers a body blow of a book. Assembly is extraordinary, each word weighed, each detail meticulously crafted… Brown is mercilessly clear-eyed in her delineation of how British culture is also “assembled” – its history whitewashed and arguing against it near-impossible when “the only tool of expression is the language of this place”. Yet she wields that language like a weapon and hits her mark again and again with devastating elegance

    The Times
  • Incredible. [Assembly] moves the English novel on. Slim book, massive importance

    Max Porter, author of 'Grief is the Thing With Feathers'
  • Stunning, blisteringly eloquent… Assembly heralds a powerful new voice in British literature

    The Sunday Times
  • Assembly is brilliant. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway meets Citizen by Claudia Rankine. Natasha Brown’s ability to slide between the tiniest, most telling detail and the edifice of history, the assemblage of so many lives in so many times and places, is as breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true

    Olivia Sudjic, author of 'Asylum Road'

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