Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones was one of the multitude of books recommended in class at Hagley Writers’ Institute. This one was recommended by Bernadette Hall (who interviews Lloyd Jones here) as her favourite of his novels.
Hand Me Down World is the story of Ines, an African hotel worker, on a journey from Tunisia to Berlin. The first part of the story is all ‘hand me down’ witness stories of the nameless African woman and their experience of her, the later part of the story covers her own testimony.
The story covers a large number of narrators, all giving their version of what happened, leaving the reader to piece together who and where the main character is, and what her real motive is behind her actions and journey.
Given the amount we have heard in recent years about people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, Hand Me Down World was a good read of the story of Ines’ survival, bringing more of a personal timeline of the hardships and endurance required for such a journey. The other narrators’ responses to her and their attitudes were also very interesting and a good way of telling the story.
As someone who is currently writing flash fiction and short stories, I liked the many shorter narratives as the sum of the whole story. It is something that I plan on using in my own work this year, so it was great to read it by a well respected author to see it well done.