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An Evening with Alastair Sawday

20th October, 2021, Steyning Cricket Club

The Illuminations

illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan

Longlisted for the Booker prize, this thoughtful and engaging novel, Andrew O’Hagan’s fifth, explores with a fresh voice universal themes of age, memory, war and love. Former documentary photographer Ann lives in sheltered accommodation in Ayrshire, while her grandson Luke serves in Afghanistan encountering in real life the scenarios that he and his war fodder contemporaries relished on Xbox games. When he returns disillusioned and trying to forget the disturbing scenes that he has experienced (robustly described by O’Hagan), he finds himself tasked with helping his grandmother, in contrast, retrieve past memories and long-kept secrets and questions of veracity in image and recall gain an added resonance.
It’s a measure of O’Hagan’s compassion that after balancing these stories of war and family – braving the battlefield and braving the passing of time – the ultimate note is hopeful and almost gentle, of something that seems real and vital. The Guardian