A woman confronts the most important question of her life in this blistering, fearless, and unforgettable literary debut from "a stunning new writer." (Bernardine Evaristo)

“A quiet, measured call to revolution…This is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.”—Ali Smith, author of Summer

"Brilliant. Brown's gaze is piercing."—Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar 

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.

"Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway meets Claudia Rankine's Citizen…as breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true.”—Olivia Sudjic, author of Sympathy and Asylum Road

Meet The Author: Natasha Brown

Natasha Brown has spent a decade working in financial services, after studying Maths at Cambridge University. She developed Assembly after receiving a 2019 London Writers Award in the literary fiction category.

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Praise

“Natasha Brown’s exquisite prose, daring structure and understated elegance are utterly captivating. She is a stunning new writer.”
 —BERNARDINE EVARISTO, Booker Prize-winning author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
“Bold and original, with a cool intelligence, and so very truthful about the colonialist structure of British society: how it has poisoned even our language, making its necessary dismantling almost the stuff of dreams. I take hope from Assembly, not just for our literature but also for our slow awakening.”—DIANA EVANS, author of ORDINARY PEOPLE
Assembly is brilliant. Brown’s gaze is piercing. Each sentence is a perfectly polished jewel.”—AVNI DOSHI, author of BURNT SUGAR
“Mind-bending and utterly original. Assembly is like Thomas Bernhard in the key of Rachel Cusk but about black subjectivity.”
 —BRANDON TAYLOR, author of REAL LIFE and FILTHY ANIMALS
“A quiet, measured call to revolution…[Assembly is] slim in the hand, but its impact is massive; it strikes me as the kind of book that sits on the faultline between a before and an after. I could use words like elegant and brilliantly judged and literary antecedents such as Katherine Mansfield/Toni Morrison/Claudia Rankine. But it’s simpler than that. I’m full of hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.”—ALI SMITH, author of SUMMER
“A stunning achievement of compressed narrative and fearless articulation.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Timely and urgent…Written in a distilled, minimalist prose, Assembly is illuminating on everything from micro aggressions in the workplace, to the reality of living in the ‘hostile environment’, to the legacy of British colonialism.”
 —THE OBSERVER, 10 Best Debut Novelists of 2021

“Within a neat 100 pages, Natasha Brown’s precise, powerful debut novel says more about Britain’s colonial legacy and what it’s like trying to exist within that as a black British woman than most could achieve with three times the space…Assembly signals the arrival of a significant talent, one who brilliantly illuminates the entrenched inequalities of our time.”

THE GUARDIAN
Assembly is an astonishing work. Formally innovative, as beautiful as it is coolly devastating, urgent and utterly precise on what it means to be alive now.”
 —SOPHIE MACKINTOSH, author of THE WATER CURE
“Assembly captures the sickening weightlessness a Black British woman, who has been obedient to and complicit with the capitalist system, experiences as she makes life decisions under pressure from the hegemony. Stripped back to prose poetry and at times plainly essayistic, this is a bold and elegant statement, all the more powerful for its brevity.”—PAUL MENDEZ, author of RAINBOW MILK
“This slimline novel may be minuscule at just over 100 pages, but it packs an oversized punch. A nuanced, form-redefining exploration on class, work, gender and race, Brown’s debut has already garnered mass hype from the industry.”—HARPER’S BAZAAR
“A powerhouse of a book. Debut writer Brown’s narrator is a Black British woman preparing for a garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate who turns her unerring eye on the truth behind the facade of our society.”
 —STYLIST
Assembly is brilliant. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway meets Citizen by Claudia Rankine. Natasha Brown’s ability to slide between the tiniest, most telling detail and the edifice of history, the assemblage of so many lives in so many times and places, is as breathtakingly graceful as it is mercilessly true.”
 —OLIVIA SUDJIC, author of SYMPATHY and ASYLUM ROAD
“Deft, essential, and a novel of poetic consideration, Assembly holds (the Black-British) identity in its hands, examining it until it becomes both truer and stranger – a question more than an answer. I nodded, I mhmed, I sighed (and laughed knowingly, bitterly).”
 —RACHEL LONG, author of the Rathbones Folio-shortlisted MY DARLING FROM THE LIONS
“Heralds the arrival of a bright new talent…A scorching portrait of the British class system and its poisonous relationship with race, immigration, work and sexual politics…the literary debut of the summer.”
 —VOGUE
Assembly feels thrillingly like the fictional companion to Jamaica Kincaid’s nonfiction masterpiece A Small Place: where A Small Place dissected British imperialism and coloniality as manifested in Antigua, Brown turns that keen, forensic gaze back to England’s own green and not so pleasant Land, filleting through its mores and pulling back its veneer of civility with the steady, sure hand of a surgeon. A book like a finely honed scalpel—marking a new and electrifying dawn for the essay novel.”—ELAINE CASTILLO, author of AMERICA IS NOT THE HEART
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What's Inside

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Reader Reviews