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?
What it lacks in length — a slim 112 pages — it makes up for in strength. A scathing takedown of the British class system and the country’s views on race, immigration and gender politics, Assembly packs a wallop ... Though impactful, the skeleton story line of Assembly isn’t what makes the book so unshakable. It’s the way Brown expertly captures the narrator’s mental state through an internal dialogue that’s alternately plagued and disgusted by how others perceive her ... Assembly is a searing account of a woman trying to 'be invisible, imperceptible,' even in the face of what most would consider triumph. In truth, her thoughts — and actions — do just the opposite. They signify a rousing, inspired voice demanding to be recognized and heard.
Brilliantly sharp ... Slim but not slight, at 112 pages, it blows apart the flimsily constructed notion of a race-blind meritocracy ... The novel’s final third is exquisite ... Only one puzzle remains unsolved: how a novel so slight can bear such weight.
A short sharp shock of a novel ... [A] virtuosic debut ... To say that Assembly is slight would be an understatement: not only is it barely even novella-sized, it is also organised into vignettes, so that its already meagre portion of language is threaded through what seems comparatively like acres of space. The effect is to require readers to supply the connective tissue necessary to turn it into narrative – text that is sparse on the page expands on consumption; it swells like a sponge in the mind ... Achingly unique ... Brown nudges us, with this merging of form and content, towards an expression of the inexpressible – towards feeling rather than thought, as if we are navigating the collapsing boundaries between the narrator’s consciousness and our own.