The Coming Bad Days by Sarah Bernstein: startling and inventive

Sarah Bernstein’s stylish debut novel about the female experience from a writer to watch

Sarah Bernstein: ‘concerns herself with the role of women in society, both historically and in contemporary times’

Sarah Bernstein: ‘concerns herself with the role of women in society, both historically and in contemporary times’

As if the present days weren’t bad enough, the title of Sarah Bernstein’s bracing debut novel heralds the arrival of further disaster and unrest. But don’t let that put you off. The Coming Bad Days is a startling and inventive piece of work about the absurdity and difficulty of being alive.

The plot can be summarised in a few lines. An unnamed female protagonist of unspecified age moves to an unnamed university town where she hopes to begin a new life, or at the very least forget her old one. Beyond this, not a lot happens. There are some scenes of college life that show her lack of enthusiasm about teaching and her PhD studies. There are a couple of elliptical therapy sessions, a friendship with a colleague, Clara, and a vaguely romantic liaison with a male lecturer.

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