Review by Kate Jones
Amy Arnold is the first winner of the inaugural Northern Book Prize. Her winning book, Slip of a Fish, was released in November 2018, published by And Other Stories, an independent, not-for-profit publisher of literary fiction, and the instigators of the prize.
And Other Stories kindly forwarded me an advance review copy of Arnold’s winning book, and it came as no surprise that Slip of a Fish is a bold, brave, artful novel.
Arnold’s prose is linguistically exquisite. Her protagonist narrator Ash collects words, allowing Arnold to tread dexterously between language and its application. Ash is an often unreliable narrator—or perhaps she is too honest—either way, the story is revealed allusively via Ash’s inner world.
We discover through Ash’s inner voice that she has had a sensuous relationship with her female yoga teacher, and these scenes are brought to life with a richness that her outer, real life world cannot convey.
The book is also about motherhood and femaleness, as we see Ash’s relationship with her 7-year-old daughter develop over one hot summer spent at the local lake. As the summer closes in, Ash’s transgressive behaviour begins to slip out of control, with devastating consequences.
Slip of a Fish is not an easy read. It has an intensity and emotional pull that keeps it long in the mind. Hopefully, And Other Stories will continue to publish such innovative, fresh new literary fiction, and this will undoubtedly be the first of more writing from Amy Arnold.
Slip of a Fish (2018) is published by And Other Stories.
Kate Jones is a freelance writer, yoga lover and NHS worker from the North of England. Her essays, reviews and flash fiction have appeared in many varied places, including Spelk, Feminartsy and The Short Story.