Socialist Worker

Reviews round-up: The Sparsholt Affair

Issue No. 2574

The novel skewers the hypocrisy of middle class morality

The novel skewers the hypocrisy of middle class morality


Alan Hollinghurst has built a career writing witty, elegant prose. And his latest book doesn’t depart from tradition.

In much of his writing he holds a mirror up to middle class insecurities and hypocrisy, skewering the skewed morals that lie at the heart of the system.

The Sparsholt Affair ranges around through the second half of the twentieth century. Perspectives change, testing the reader’s sympathies.

At the centre of the novel lies the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

The affair in the title of the book is related to this. Like much of Hollinghurst’s writing, key events are alluded to. The reader has to come to many of their own conclusions.

In the first section Hollinghurst turns his acerbic wit on the gentleman’s club of Oxford University during the Second World War. He revisits the same characters in later sections.

As with much of his writing, relationships between men form the bulk of the plot. The criminalisation of homosexuality adds a layer of complexity.

The wit of his Booker Prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty, which savages Thatcherism, is on display here.

Never be explicit when insinuation will do, the rule seems to be. Instead of “sex”, his characters describe “rhythmical creaking”.

One weakness of Hollinghurst’s books is that working class people often only provide background noise.

But that shouldn’t stop anyone reading a book by an insightful writer.

Alistair Farrow

The Sparsholt Affair
Written by Alan Hollinghurst
Released on 4 October Published by Picador £20 hardback, £16.99 eBook


Prophets of Rage—Prophets of Rage

Prophets of Rage is a collaboration project between former Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave members Tim Commerford, Tom Morello and Brad Wilk alongside DJ Lord, Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real from Cypress Hill.

The album blends together rock and rap to address topics ranging from racism and police brutality, to the legalisation of cannabis and much more along the way.

In the opening tracks the song Unfuck the World urges folks to “stand up and rise like the tide”.

Because it tries to include so many disparate topics, the album doesn’t have the sharpest political thrust.

It is good fun, but I wouldn’t neccessarily choose to listen to it again.

Jim Shay

Prophets of Rage by Prophets of Rage
Available at prophetsofrage.com


The Fred Hampton Appreciation Society—Songs of Love and Resistance

Political music has been dogged by the “worthy but dull” tag for many a year.

So it’s good to have a band come along that breaks that mould by both being able to play and having something to say.

Named after the legendary Black Panther leader who was gunned down by the Feds, the group certainly have a lot to live up to.

Part of their appeal has to be lead vocalist Pamela Nyambo.

Brought up in Leicester by Zimbabwean parents, she learnt her trade in the gospel choirs of her youth.

The Fred Hampton Appreciation Society pays a fitting tribute to their influences—both musical and political.

Yuri Prasad

Songs of Love and Resistance
The Fred Hampton Appreciation Society
Public Sector Records
Debut gig—Friday 20 Oct, 7pm, Nambucca, 596 Holloway Rd, London N7 6LB

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