Book Notes: Simon Lelic’s The New Neighbors

Fear of London’s ridiculously expensive real estate market and fear of human connection come together in this thriller. The result is a novel that is as tortured as its repetitively abused characters.

The worst thing about it is that it’s very fake. Is anybody really stupid enough to take on an enormous London mortgage with “a girlfriend”? Especially a girlfriend who is a completely unhinged drug addict? And then casually toss away a job on a dumb whim when one needs to be paying down the enormous London mortgage?

The characters behave like they are in a soap opera, never worrying about money even though they are supposed to be poor, spending no time at work, and concealing everything big and small from each other to create potential for screaming matches.

The only characters in the novel who are honorable, normal, not chaotic and pleasant to read about are immigrants from Iraq. The question, of course, is why people from a place that allows for such great psychological health would need to seek refuge in a culture where everybody is a totally messed-up freak who can’t function without violently assaulting everybody else every 5 minutes. Obviously, the genre rests on the use of stereotypes but here it’s too extreme.

In short: I didn’t like it.

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