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About the book
  • Published: 7 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784707248
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99
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Ordinary People

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019




A funny, sad novel about two couples on the brink of crisis from 'a lyrical and glorious writer' (Naomi Alderman)

WINNER OF THE SOUTH BANK SKY ARTS AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION

'I am shouting from the rooftops to anyone who will listen about this book. It’s so so good – realistic and funny and so truthful it almost winded me' Dolly Alderton, The High Low
Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn't want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can't quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way.

Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love.

'I just finished Ordinary People by Diana Evans and it is utterly exquisite. What a writer she is - the depth of her insight, the grace of her sentences. WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME NOT READING HER?'
Elizabeth Day, Twitter
‘God this book is fantastic’ Pandora Sykes


A NEW YORKER, NEW STATESMAN AND FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
NOMINATED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALS FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION
‘Diana Evans’s fiction is emotionally intelligent, dark, funny, moving. The sheer energy in her novels is enthralling. A brilliant craftswoman, a master of the form, she makes the reader ask important questions of themselves and makes them laugh at the same time’ Jackie Kay, British Council and National Centre for Writing's International Showcase on Britain's 10 best BAME writers

  • Pub date: 7 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784707248
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Diana Evans

Diana Evans is a British author of Nigerian and English descent. Her bestselling novel, 26a, won the inaugural Orange Award for New Writers and the British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year prize. It was also shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel, the Guardian First Book, the Commonwealth Best First Book and the Times/Southbank Show Breakthrough awards, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Wonder, is currently under option for TV dramatisation. She is a former dancer, and as a journalist and critic has contributed to among others Marie Claire, the Independent, the Guardian, the Observer, The Times, the Telegraph, Financial Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Ordinary People is her third novel, and received an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award. She lives in London.

@DianaEvansOP
www.diana-evans.com

Also by Diana Evans

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Praise for Ordinary People

“Diana Evans is a lyrical and glorious writer; a precise poet of the human heart”

Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

“Thoughtful and intelligently observed... Evans's delicate prose weaves issues of racial identity and politics into the narrative so that they never feel heavy-handed...a deftly observed, elegiac portrayal of modern marriage, and the private – often painful – quest for identity and fulfilment in all its various guises”

Observer

“Evans gives us romance going cold with just as pitiless a precision as Flaubert in Madame Bovary... Evans's prose is magnificent: it's as if she measured each sentence, trimmed the excess weight, then fitted it into place”

Daily Telegraph

“Achieves a moody, velvety atmosphere, as though events were unfolding under amber-tinted bulbs...offers a precise sketch of the British black middle class, with a daring fifth-act twist”

Katy Waldman, New Yorker

“One of the very many things that makes this book exceptional is the even-handed sympathy and unflinching fidelity with which Evans charts the changing weather both of her protagonists’ emotions and family life. She excels at dialogue and she’s also a soulful lyrical chronicler of London in all its moods and guises”

Daily Mail

“It could easily be reimagined for the screen, though the film would not capture the sheer energy and effervescence of Evans’s funny, sad, magnificent prose”

Guardian

“Diana Evans’s fiction is emotionally intelligent, dark, funny, moving. The sheer energy in her novels is enthralling. A brilliant craftswoman, a master of the form, she makes the reader ask important questions of themselves and makes them laugh at the same time”

Jackie Kay

“There is something radical in how Evans depicts the lives of young, black people, faithfully, fully and quietly”

Financial Times

“Ordinary People is a very funny book...a reminder of the power that only the novel has: to show you a familiar world from someone else's perspective”

Evening Standard

“I’m currently very much enjoying Diana Evans’s novel Ordinary People, which takes a forensic look at the pleasures and perils of marriage and parenting and modern London living”

Sarah Waters, Guardian, Best Summer Books

“Sparkling... Rich, complex and quietly extreme, Ordinary People is a forensic study of human relationships, one that finds, like the best novels, universality in the specific. It is also a supreme London novel... In short, it's a joy from start to finish”

Literary Review

“Does literary fiction have a blind spot when it comes to race? When a novel like Diana Evans's Ordinary People feels unusual, you have to wonder... This is a wonderful novel – generous, clear-sighted and rich with the old-fashioned pleasure of characters you're left impatient to revisit”

Metro

“Ordinary People offers a unique insight into the complexities and the challenges of modern life, identity and that lovely little thing we call love. From the moment I started to read it I was absolutely gripped - that’s how good it is. It is a beautifully crafted, honest exploration of how relationships are forged and deconstructed, and how the everyday and the remarkable can exist side by side.”

Benjamin Zephaniah, South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2019

“That rarest thing: a literary novel about real, recognizable human beings—a poignant portrait of middle life in London's middle class. Evans has given us four thirtysomething characters so perfectly drawn that they seem to come from a brilliant Netflix dramedy, but has rendered them with a classical prose so confident that it seems to come from a 19th century novel. Beach reading for the thinking beachgoer: as intelligent and insightful as it is hilariously entertaining.”

Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

“Ordinary People is that rarest of books – a portrait that lays bare the normality of black family life in suburban London, while revealing its deepest psyche, its tragedies, its hopes and its magic. The words are infused with a beauty that leaves the reader spellbound and yet astounded by the familiarity of it all. I had not realised how much I longed for characters like these until I found them, brought alive here with such compassion. A wondrous book.”

Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)

“Ordinary People sings with every word. The writing is pitch perfect, the underlying politics of race and gender is never heavy handed, and the characterisation of south London is enviable. I know these streets and they beat to the music that runs through this book...a lyrical and beautiful story. It's a triumph”

Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness

“Diana Evans has an alluring sense of time, place and identity as she writes about the complicated turning points of life, delivering descriptions that are simultaneously subtle and vivid, stories both intimate and collective. Here are pages that deserve to be lingered over, savoured, and re-read.”

Margaret Busby

“Intensely relatable”

Independent

“Diana Evans writes exquisitely beautifully about the interior landscapes of human relationships set against the urban and suburban cityscapes of London. Her characters are portrayed with depth, perceptiveness and complexity, and through the descriptions of their emotional journeys, we discover a language to understand ourselves”

Bernardine Evaristo

“Diana Evans has masterfully crafted a beautiful, nuanced story about love, loss, and redemption. With compelling prose and an uncanny insight into the questions life throw at us as human beings, she has established herself as a voice to behold.”

Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun

“Evans' prose has a musical quality”

Eithne Farry, Mail on Sunday

“A wonderfully warm and intelligent novel”

Sarra Manning, Red

“13 new books to put a spring in your step’, mention: ‘Ordinary London lives are captured with lyricism and integrity… A quiet, vividly-drawn novel about the moments of angst and joy that make up everyday life.”

Lucy Brooks, CultureWhisper

“Sheer energy and effervescence… Funny, sad, magnificent prose.”

Arifa Akbar, Guardian

“The agony of ordinary life is what makes Ordinary People an absorbing read. Evans gives us an entirely readable account of relationships, recognising how they defeat us, encircle us and leave us gasping for air.”

Shahidya Bari, Financial Times

“Intelligent and thoughtful.”

The Week

“Rich, complex and quietly extreme… A joy from start to finish.”

Jude Cook, Literary Review

“A painfully accurate analysis of a life stage.”

The Pool

“[An] impressively controlled tale of marital disharmony, parental ambivalence and lost identity… There’s a deep underlying sadness here, but it’s a rewarding and ruthlessly funny novel.”

Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Times

“This is a highly enjoyable novel, full of wit and sharp observation”

Vanessa Berridge, The Sunday Express

“Evans is a superb writer of emotional moments: how enchanting they are, how they both resist and inspire description… Evans’s prose is always magnificent, composed and unshowy”

Cal Revely-Calder, Daily Telegraph

“A sympathetic and smart study of two metropolitan couples on the brink. Evans paints a quietly agonising picture of everyday life that is at once specific and timeless”

Rebecca Rose, Financial Times

“Steeped in London’s grit and enduring allure, this is a psychologically acute, sexy, funny and hugely affecting novel”

Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail

“a lyrical portrait of modern London”

Sunday Times

“The compromises we make in marriage and as parents are explored in Evans’ lyrical and entertaining study of two thirtysomething couples on the brink. With its accompanying playlist of Faith Evans, Amy Winehouse and Jay-Z, a beat pulses through this slice of south London life, as Evans’ characters celebrate Obama’s victory and come to terms with the end of their salad days.”

Financial Times

“Evans' writing is like water; her sentences ebb and flow and change course, mirroring the Thames as it wends its way in and around the characters' lives”

Katy Thompsett, Refinery29, **Books of the Year**

“Ordinary People...is very insightful… a detailed, well observed description of modern marriage”

David Nicholls, Good Housekeeping

“A masterpiece of modern living”

Kerry Fowler, Sainsbury's Magazine


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