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26Jun

To Fill a Yellow House by Sussie Anie review – salvation in a charity shop

Anie’s skilful debut novel follows the development of an unlikely bond between a shopkeeper and a young boy in a hostile inner-city environment

Life in the city is shocking, its din so overwhelming that inhabitants learn to dull it into an incessant ambient roar. It is this bewildering clamour of urban living that sets the rhythm for Sussie Anie’s London-based debut novel, To Fill a Yellow House. It is the story of the unlikely friendship between Kwasi and Rupert. In the course of the novel, we see Kwasi grow from shy infant to artistic and socially unsure young man. Rupert is the ageing owner of a charity shop. He and the shop, poorly maintained after the death of his wife, are both in decline, caught between the whims of the unsupportive council and the threat of local youths.

If this sounds like a small or parochial story, it is testament to Anie’s skill (and background as a short story writer) that it rings with such keen and resonant themes. The only thing Kwasi and Rupert have in common is they are both outsiders, which makes their simple, human closeness all the more touching; amid the pressures of inner-city life, they allow each other the space in which they can be themselves.

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