There’s a void where his personality should be and he turns into a stalker – but somehow the narrator of this strange tale exerts a powerful grip on the reader ... There is a pleasure too in the pace, which is perfectly timed despite the lack of action ... Just when I was tiring of the book’s slowness, it became almost thriller-like – a remarkable achievement, given that the action is still all occurring inside the head of so flattened a character ... Sometimes I wondered if my whole experience of reading the novel was driven more by curiosity and aesthetic pleasure than because I really cared about the character or was inhabiting his world ... Both in its power to unsettle and its quest to establish a relationship to character that isn’t based on understanding, this is a strikingly original piece of writing.
Katharine Kilalea is a poet who grew up in South Africa and has worked in an architecture practice. All these experiences inform OK, Mr Field, whether through her luminous use of language, her descriptions of Cape Town or her understanding of how space can be constricting and expansive, vertiginous and comforting, at the same time. Details are observed intimately, like pin-pricks ... As with much of Beckett’s writing, OK, Mr Field is often bleakly comic. But at moments it is also tender (without being sentimental) ... OK, Mr Field introduces a striking new voice in fiction.
...[a] gloomy, evocative novel ... [Kilalea] conjures from precise prose and elements as basic and fraught as Tarot card images—sea, widow, wife, round tower, box house, sad man—a kind of tone poem that seems at times forced but ultimately resonates well beyond one man’s depression ... An auspicious debut that challenges the reader to follow the progress of mental distress and bravely offers little relief from the painful sight.
In some ways, this feels exactly like the sort of novel a poet would write: it’s meandering, image-focused and its characters remain vague outlines. But in other ways it’s crafted more like a philosophical or surrealist novel that seeks to defy metaphor and psychologically describes the difficult feelings of the solitary protagonist ... Some of the most effective parts of the novel are the descriptions of Mr. Field’s new relationship to music ... This is a deeply meditative novel whose curious tone teases out tantalizing questions about how we position ourselves in the world and about the gap between our inner and outer realities. The story knowingly resists any form of logical plot or certain conclusions. It’s a book that readers will most probably find either richly engaging or frustratingly tedious.
Kilalea’s striking, singular debut constructs an eerie world ... The novel is as opaque as its central character, but Kilalela maintains a balance between formal control and the irrational mystery of a man who is a 'stranger to [him]self.' The result is a disorienting and enthralling descent into one man’s peculiar malaise.