‘Kelso Deconstructed’ by Zadie Smith

Smith’s outstanding story, from her only short story collection, takes the 1959 racist murder of Antiguan carpenter Kelso Cochrane in London’s Notting Hill as trigger for a metafictional foray into narrative’s inadequacies. We are witnesses to the final day of Kelso Cochrane’s life and follow him through an imagined 1950’s London, where the voices of luminaries such as Toni Morrison and Paul Gilroy ring out in metafictional proclamations from tube station announcements and Speaker’s Corner. These voices warn Kelso and his girlfriend, as well as the reader, that innocence when entering a fictional account of such tragedy, is no longer possible.

Published in Grand Union, Penguin, 2019

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