Unity: Reviews

‘This is a deftly written, deeply intelligent and wholly admirable book, full of good ideas and sharp historical sidelights.’
D.J. Taylor, Literary Review

‘Anyone who is afraid that the English novel is sliding into a backwater of domestic anecdote should find their anxieties assuaged by the writing of Michael Arditti.  He has tackled big, disturbing themes in his early novels, but in his latest fiction, Unity, he addresses perhaps the biggest and most disturbing question of all.
Strikingly original in form, its multiplicity of different voices rendered with a ventriloquist’s eerie skill, Unity is a remarkable, unsettling book.’
Jane Shilling, The Times

‘Arditti’s complex, brilliantly constructed novel explores the appeal of fanaticism both in the Thirties and today through its story of the making of a film about the relationship between Unity Mitford and Hitler.   Unity throws light on an area of political life that should concern us all:  extremism of any shade.  It is the most intriguing and thought-provoking novel I have read this year,’
Clare Colvin, Daily Express

‘Michael Arditti’s complex and remarkable new novel.  I came away from Unity feeling that I had fought with monsters, and gazed into the abyss, before being led back:  older and wiser and less sure.’
Liz Jensen, Catholic Herald

‘Michael Arditti is a Christian (see his fine novel, Easter, 2000) and the purpose of his assemblages is to understand the human appetite for gratuitous cruelty, abundantly in evidence in the Third Reich and in 1970s terrorism, while continuing to believe that evil is but a perversion of good, and good our natural element of being.  The final section of Unity, an interview with the film’s determinedly amoral backer, Thomas Bücher, debates this with a Dostoevskyan intentness.  But for me Arditti’s Christian virtue is most fully revealed in the pages devoted to Luke Dent, whose letters – part cynical, part affectionate, part knowing, part blindly innocent – dominate the book, testimony to the author’s love for his creation, the only possible antidote to the loveless, anti-human behaviour that Unity has been courageous enough to confront.’
Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement

‘Michael Arditti is a writer who takes risks.  His material is always compelling and provocative, his technique sophisticated and oblique.  What is astonishing in Unity is the grim wit and ironic humour which pervade this deadly serious page-turner.  The book is structured like a detective story with the documents – letters, memoirs, diaries, transcribed interviews, emails – as archival sources.  The conceit is flawless.  The unnerving authenticity of Arditti’s method gives him licence to pursue his own disturbing agenda – an investigation into the links between power, sexuality and political fanaticism.  The reader staggers away from this uncompromising drama of ideas shaken and stirred.’
Patricia Duncker, Independent on Sunday

‘The remarkable construct invests the work with an authority that enhances his arguments.  That many of the characters are based on composites of real people allows for a slyly penetrating insight.  While each character is intended as a conduit for ideas, they all occupy the page with a reality as if drawn in blood.  For an experimental novel it has a very firm grip on the personalities involved.  Hugely ambitious in its scope… chilling in the extremity of its import… the novel is threaded with compassion for humans and their frailties.’
Neil Norman, Financial Times

‘An intelligent and disturbing novel about the roots and attractions of evil.’
Allan Massie, Scotsman

‘Unity is a cleverly constructed and powerfully observed novel.  The final interview between Arditti and the financier of Unity – pornography tycoon and death camp survivor Thomas Bücher – is superb, almost frightening, as he confounds the character Arditti with his belief that humans are intrinsically evil.  I left Unity with the feeling I had been in the company of an imagination prepared to explore the murky complexities of humanity yet at the same time cognisant of the risks.  It’s a novel both dark and wise.
Ed Wright, Sydney Morning Herald

‘The most original book we read, Unity, reinterprets the traditional novel in an intriguing and experimental manner, showering the reader with kaleidoscopic viewpoints.  It is sometimes playful, mixing fact and fiction, ground-breaking, in that it challenges the form of the novel, and wrestles with taboos.  Unity challenges received wisdom across a range of eras and subjects, from the Holocaust to left-wing extremism in post-war Germany.  It is an exciting book which asks the reader to consider the nature of evil.  Unity provides both a new take on the subject-matter of the Second World War and the art form of the novel.’
Oona King, chair of the Wingate-Jewish Quarterly award, 2006 

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