Barn 8: dazzling depiction of contemporary carnage

Book review: Deb Olin Unferth’s novel looks at the role of activism in 21st-century society

Deb Olin Unferth’s new novel  plays fast and loose with time.

Deb Olin Unferth’s new novel plays fast and loose with time.

One of the trickiest things to pull off in fiction is the time-bending narrative, where an omniscient narrator loops in and out of different lives over centuries, sometimes showing us in a single sentence glimpses of the past, present and future.

Gabriel García Márquez is a master of the form. Take the opening line of his opus One Hundred Years of Solitude, which hooks the reader from the off with its assault on time. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

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