2 out of 4 stars
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The Curl is a novel by Raymond George Ward about a business struggle between Girlee, an up and coming banker, and Grantlee, another business owner. It focuses on the struggles of black people in Britain and the racism involved in businesses.
This novel excellently explores racism and black culture. There are several hard-hitting scenes of police brutality that mirror real-life perfectly. Racism in the business environment is written about thoughtfully. I also really enjoyed how the author writes dialogue to mimic the accents of the characters. It gives the story a more authentic tone that I liked.
I also really loved the female characters in the novel. The author writes an insightful portrayal of how black women are often desired but simultaneously ridiculed by white men. Girlee was my favorite character. She constantly stood her ground, no matter the situation.
However, this is where my praise for the novel ends. My main issue with this book is that all the events took place out of chronological order. It made the timeline nearly impossible to follow. I think that this could have been done effectively if the author had provided dates at the start of the chapters. Instead, the reader is left guessing when things took place. This ruined my reading experience as I had to go back and check previous chapters a lot to figure out what was a flashback and what wasn’t.
There is also an extremely graphic sexual assault scene that felt out of tune with the earlier parts of the novel. Until this point, the story was more focussed on race and financial struggles. I would strongly advise the author to include a trigger warning somewhere in the book. Many readers who would pick up this novel would read the blurb and not expect to find a scene like this.
There is also a poorly written sex scene. For example, the author referred to female genitals as a “cycloptic eye” and male genitals as a “chocolate tool.” It looked like the phrases had been plucked from a bad erotic novel. Again, this felt out of place. The rest of the story had a very serious tone and well-written prose. Even the assault scene had more serious and realistic descriptions.
I am giving this book 2 out of 4 stars. There were some excellent explorations of racism and culture, but the disjointed narrative and poor handling of sexual trauma made me remove two stars from the final rating. I would recommend this book to people who are interested in racism in Britain and the struggles black people have had in business. This book contains graphic sexual violence, domestic violence, police brutality, racism, and sexism. For this reason, I would only recommend the novel to adult readers who are comfortable reading about these topics.
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