“Hot Stew” by Fiona Mozley
Fiona Mozley is out with her first full length fiction since the spectacular success of the 2017 Booker Short-Listed “Elmet”. It is entitled “Hot Stew” and it is a stunner.
If anyone ever had any doubts about inequities in our world, they should by now be fully swept away. Everyone needs shelter, food, health care, safety, quality work, joy, and respect. The path to attaining these vary widely depending on access based on race, ethnicity, wealth, political standing, gender, etc. ”Hot Stew” takes a deep drive into these disparities in a powerful, yet cunning, way.
There are a whole host of characters of which to keep track, but the most compelling is arguably the Soho section of West London. Long a redoubt for culture, arts and the more dionysian needs of humans, it is constantly subject to gentrification. While dive bars, strip clubs, massage parlors, and hotels that rent out by the hour, day, week, and month have their charm, there is always more money to be made by tearing down than by carefully restoring. That there is human collateral is a minor detail that need not weigh heavily on the morals of the political and ownership classes.
I loved the characters. They could have been cutout stereotypes, but they were not. There were depictions of all manners of depravity. Sensitive readers beware. Some characters stepped up and out of their oppression, finding voices that they never knew. Others get back up off the ground, dusted themselves off and began to chart a new course. Some became remorseful, others never could. All in all a lively, compelling, sad and hopeful story of our times.
Thank you to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for the dARC.