- JACKDAW by Tade Thompson (Cheerio £15, 160pp)
Buckle up for this darkly weird thunderbolt of a novella, narrated by one Tade Thompson, a British-Nigerian psychiatrist and science fiction writer who just happens to share a name with the author.
The novel kicks off when, contracted to write about Francis Bacon, Tade finds himself compulsively drawn to photographs of one of the painter’s models.
His murky obsession plays havoc not only with his day job but his home life as a married father, as he plunges into a series of sexual experiments that rake up the painful legacy of a troubled childhood.
The sheer unpredictability of the narrative is sustained by the easy-reading clarity of Thompson’s voice, wholly disarming as it toys gleefully with the book’s autobiographical overlap.
By the end, you can practically taste the tang of scorched earth in the air, as Thompson’s acknowledgements thank his family for putting up with any discomfort the book may generate.