Love, writing and a peek into Islamophobia in Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry.

Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry is an unusual, lopsided intersection of love, art and life’s inequalities.

Asymmetry, n.

lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; lack of symmetry.

Asymmetry* is Lisa Halliday’s first novel. The romance between twenty-something year old Alice and Ezra Blazer, an author at least four decades her senior is the central plot. It is divided into three parts: Folly, Madness and Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs. Folly, which is undoubtedly my favorite section, focuses on Ezra and Alice’s relationship. Madness is the story of Iraqi-American Amar, who is detained at Heathrow on his way to visit his brother in Baghdad. It is hard to find a clearly apparent intersection of both stories and many readers might have to do a bit of decoding. The final part is a final interview with Ezra Blazer.

WHAT I LIKED

This was an unusual book. Halliday’s writing has been described as ‘elegant’ and it is not difficult to see why. The prose is atypical and the premise of the book is even more so. “Folly” is exquisitely written, her tender depiction of the love story makes you almost forget that Ezra is aged, old enough to be Alice’s grandfather. Alice and Ezra’s affair, however, is punctuated by reminders of the age difference between them. His multiple ailments, chronic back pain and hospital visits do not permit you to forget.

I also enjoyed reading about Amar’s childhood, family and life in Iraq. His time in detention really underscores the extent of post 9/11 islamophobia. I understood the cautiousness of immigration but it’s also sad to think that people’s families actually still live in these countries. Thus, people need to visit.

Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry

If you're feeling for something unusual and well written, try Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry. Click To Tweet

What I didn’t enjoy

Although superbly paced and virtually a page turner at the start, the second part is full of political jargon and seems almost entirely disconnected from the first. Still, the storytelling is always fascinating. I hated that I read the entire second segment WAITING for a big intersection that never really happened. Also, I never fully understood Alice’s character and her motivations. It just felt like a missing limb.

Lisa Halliday inhabits her characters well and the reading experience is strangely enjoyable. Click To Tweet

Overall

I have to say I enjoyed this book, especially the first half. Halliday inhabits her characters well and the reading experience is strangely enjoyable. Even in the second part and toward the end when I was lost, I couldn’t stop reading. The dry humor in this book is often laugh-out-loud funny. It’s really hard to explain, but you’ll only get it if you read the book. If you’re feeling for something unusual and well written, try this.

Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry is an unusual intersection of love, art and life's inequalities. Read this review! @simonbooks Click To Tweet

*I received an advance readers copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: Somewhere between 3/5 and 4/5 stars

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Enjoyed this review? Read my review of Michelle Frances’ debut psychological thriller, The Girlfriend, here.