Line by Niall Bourke: Where life is one long queue

Book review: This sharply funny and astute novel centres around a line of people so long that generations have born and died hoping to reach the front

Niall Bourke’s prose is spare and hard-working.

Niall Bourke’s prose is spare and hard-working.

Niall Bourke’s Line must have been mostly written before lockdown, certainly before lockdown had gone on so long that his imagined lifelong, multigenerational queue developed particular resonance, but it’s hard not to see a parallel.

We meet Willard, living with his mother in what first seems like a refugee camp but is a queue (refugee camps are, after all, a queue of sorts), a line of people so long that generations have been born and died in the hope of reaching the front. No one knows what they are waiting for, but the terrain around the queue is unsurvivable and the punishment for leaving is death by torture.

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