From Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-nominated author Sara Taylor comes a dazzling new work exploring identity and relationships, set against a rolling backdrop of the North American landscape.
'A writer of real gravitas and potency.' Ali Smith
'An extraordinary journey ... Engrossing, original and eloquent.' Helen Dunmore
'Elegiac and beautifully observed.' Observer
'Vivid and captivating.' Stylist
I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong...
As Ma and Alex make their way from Virginia to California, each new state prompts stories and secrets of a life before Alex. Together they put to rest unsettled scores, heal old wounds, and search out lost friends. But Alex can't forget the life they've left behind.
“Sara Taylor’s The Lauras just persuaded me even more that Taylor is a writer of real gravitas and potency. It feels, to read her, uncanny – a bit reminiscent of reading early Atwood three decades ago. She’s a writer whose talent, a fusion of sure-footed, calm and uncompromising, is both quiet and prodigious.”
Ali Smith, Guardian, 'Best Books of 2016'
“Elegiac and beautifully observed… Our sympathies remain with the narrator throughout. Scenes of violence, abuse and ritual humiliation are described in such visceral detail that the injustice of Alex’s experience burns on to the page … Taylor has a great ear for language, with the kind of sentences that make you pause and read a second time … It is such acute observations of her imaginary world that saw Taylor’s debut novel, The Shore longlisted for the Bailey’s prize, and it should be no great surprise to find her second novel following in its footsteps … At the heart of the novel’s themes of family, love, loss, and identity – not to mention the power, destruction and redemption within the parent-child relationship – is a meditation on gender: on our determination to define and categorise, and on the need by some to belittle or abuse based on that distinction.”
“A strong voice ... both lyrical and down-to-earth ...Taylor’s sense of place is one of her greatest strengths. She writes about versions of America that few outsiders ever see ... There is nothing gratuitous about her writing. All of these places are there because they matter and because being in them changes the characters or reveals their histories ... An extraordinary journey ... There’s violence and pain in The Lauras ... The Lauras is a fine achievement, engrossing, original and eloquent, and Taylor has more than fulfilled the promise of The Shore.”
Helen Dunmore, Guardian
“Sara Taylor’s tour-de-force debut, The Shore, was an intriguing set of interlocked short stories, spanning generations and crossing genres … She more than keeps the promise of The Shore in The Lauras. If there is one significant difference it is that The Shore was fiercely bound to a place, whereas The Lauras is a road trip ricocheting around North America. It is a road trip of both inner space and outer vistas … Alex does not identify as either sex, nor gender. If you re-read this review at this point you will see how I avoided using a pronoun that might indicate a specificity that Alex renounces. The book does this brilliantly … It is exceptionally moving, and the novel it reminded me of most is James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, not in terms of structure or intent or sentences, but in beguiling the reader into identifying with someone they thought they couldn’t … On the way, Alex will be tormented, abused, adored and ignored. Some of these scenes are gut-wrenching; some of them are quietly beautiful. Taylor’s prose is remarkable; both intense and expansive, both precise and wonderfully sfumato … The writing about Alex exploring different wildernesses is astonishing; the pages about Alex masturbating – and let’s remember we do not and cannot know what is actually going on – are in a strange way sublime … A joy.”
Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman
“A beautiful, irreverent meditation of self, sexuality and growing up. On each stop of the trip is a woman named Laura. Each has played a part in Alex’s mother’s fractured past, and together they reveal how many people we sometimes need to make a love story.”
Heather O'Neill, author of 'Lullabies for Little Criminals'
“A coming of age story, combined with a road trip, this is gorgeously written and the characters of Alex and Ma are so brilliantly drawn they’ll haunt you long after you’ve turned the final page. Quirky, original and moving.”
“Author Sara Taylor has a knowing turn of phrase that illustrates a real understanding of what makes us complex human beings tick, and you’ll be rooting for Alex throughout.”
“A terrific storyteller with a flawless narrative voice.”
“An exuberant talent.”
“This beautiful book will no doubt have you hooked – enjoy on a rainy day or take along on your commute!”