book review: Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler




STUBBORN ARCHIVIST by Yara Rodrigues Fowler
Mariner Books, July 16, 2019


Stubborn Archivist is the sort of book that manages to feel both brilliant and incomplete – that’s the impression that I’m left with upon finishing it. Debut novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler comes out of the gate strong with this book, which is an offbeat piece of auto-fiction that blends poetry and prose (think Eimear McBride, but more accessible) to tell the story of a young British-Brazilian woman growing up in South London.

This is one of the more ‘fresh’ and stylistically interesting things I’ve read in while; its challenge of structure feels authentic rather than arbitrary and the overall effect serves to put you in the head of the nameless protagonist. The one theme that is executed to perfection in this book is the exploration of what it’s like to grow up between two cultures, which Rodrigues Fowler portrays with heart-rending authenticity on both micro- and macro-cosmic levels.

But I do wonder if Rodrigues Fowler was maybe a bit too ambitious; there were a number of other themes that were introduced without ample exploration (and it’s to her credit that I do have to wonder if this was the point – after all, what woman in her early 20s has sex and sexuality completely figured out; but there were still a few scenes whose inclusion I do have to wonder at). I also was less enamored with the passages that left our protagonist and focused on her parents and her aunt; I think the idea was to give a more complete picture of this family’s history, but again, I don’t think these scenes were developed as well as they could have been in order to justify their inclusion.

Ultimately though I did think this was an incredibly striking debut. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys ‘millennial fiction’ and contemporary literary fiction that features young women trying to find their place in the world.

Thank you to Mariner Books for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

You can pre-order a copy of Stubborn Archivist here on Book Depository.

16 thoughts on “book review: Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

  1. I’ve been hesitating about this one. I love the subject-matter, and it’s reassuring you say it’s *more* accessible than Girl is A Half-Formed Thing (I got on fine with that), but I do struggle with prose-poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (though I do have plans to read it later this month, incidentally) but judging by The Lesser Bohemians, Rodrigues Fowler’s prose is more accessible BY FAR. But there was definitely something a bit McBrideian about it nevertheless. It’s definitely worth giving this one a shot if the subject matter interests you, especially as it’s a ridiculously quick read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently read Eimear McBride for the first time and liked her work a lot so that comparison speaks well for me. I’m not sure where I fall on the subject of millennial fiction but I think I’ll try this one out!


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