Just Like You: Nick Hornby’s contemporary love story nestled in a Brexit novel
A relationship blossoms between a young black man and middle-aged white woman in Nick Hornby’s ninth novel
Nick Hornby is a writer who has proven himself time and again to be hugely empathetic. Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage
Michèle Roberts’s exquisite recent memoir Negative Capability, succinctly expresses the imaginative power of authentic fiction by writing: “My own tiny pain helped me think about others’ huge ones.” It is the writer’s capacity to embody the life of another with respect, consideration and sensitivity that separates great fiction that reads as truth from a false impersonation of life.
When the creative ambition extends to creating a character that is a different gender, race, class or religion than your own, the stakes are heightened. Recent years in particular have seen a welcome discourse on cultural appropriation – where members of the dominant culture adopt elements of the minority culture and there is an imbalance of power.