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Scenes from Early Life by Philip Hensher

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Winner of the the 2013 RSL Ondaatje Prize.

The startling new novel from the author of King of the Badgers and the Man Booker-shortlisted The Northern Clemency. Narrated by a young boy born into a savage civil war, 'Scenes from Early Life' is a heartbreaking, funny and gripping novel by one of our finest writers.

If you like Philip Hensher you might also like to read books by Patrick Flanery, Khaled Hosseini and Allan Hollinghurst, A S Byatt, John Lanchester.


Scenes from Early Life by Philip Hensher

I was a baby during the war. We stayed inside for months. All my aunts took turns in feeding me. I couldn't be heard to cry. You see, there were soldiers in the streets. They would have known what a crying baby meant. So I had to be kept silent. No, not everyone came out of the war alive. One family's life, and a nation - Bangladesh - are uniquely created through conversation, sacrifice, songs, bonds, blood, bravery and jokes.


'Beautifully packed with detail ... does for Bangladesh what Salmon Rushdie did for India with Midnight's Children ... It is a remarkable re-creation of a land that most of us know little about'
Sunday Times

'This is his most purely pleasurable novel to date'
Daily Mail

'Highly impressive ... for all Hensher's accomplished ventriloquism - his ability to inhabit the voice of a Muslim child and a history teacher at the same time - his own voice is not lost ... heart-breaking'

'A deeply interesting book ... The joins are seamless ... It is inventive, clever and loving; a Booker candidate, I would have thought.'

'...this delightful book shows for the first time what Hensher has largely concealed in the past: his heart'
Amanda Craig, Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Philip Hensher

Philip Hensher's novels include Kitchen Venom, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Other Lulus and The Mulberry Empire, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the WH Smith 'People's Choice' Award and highlighted by no fewer than twelve reviewers as their 'book of the year'. Chosen by Granta to appear on their prestigious, once-a-decade list of the twenty best young British novelists, Philip Hensher is also a columnist for the Independent and chief book reviewer for the Spectator. His most recent novel, The Northern Clemency was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008. He lives in South London.

Author photo © Simon James

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Book Info

Publication date

31st January 2013


Philip Hensher

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


320 pages


Literary Fiction
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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