Malik’s new book stares into the heart of our current seething political volcano and gives it a cool hosing down ... Malik takes each claim, peels back its fallacies and exposes its roots ... With careful analysis and a great historian’s expertise for synthesising a huge amount of information into a clear arc, she engages in a powerful and persuasive debunking exercise ... Malik steers refreshingly clear of journalese and the book resembles a solid work of social science or political philosophy more than a common grab bag of extended articles. She has an excellent nose for hypocrisy and doublethink, the crude prejudices and bigotry that underlie political decisions ... At the same time, I felt two further books were trying to emerge or, rather, revealed their stubs within the manuscript. The first is a memoir of Malik’s personal and political awakening as a gifted, driven woman born in Sudan, growing up in Kenya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and later coming to London, where she worked in finance for a decade before switching to journalism ... This is not to undercut her engagement with the political assumptions she deconstructs so exhaustively in this book. But the personal foreword has a lightness, insight, depth, global perspective and power all of its own. The second is a work of American history, from Bush Sr onwards. The passages reflecting on this, looking at US foreign and domestic policy and examining the lead-up to Trump’s election as 45th president are brilliant, informative and thought-provoking, condensing many strands and a lot of research into beautifully palatable sections ... Given the political dramas that are no doubt to come this autumn, I fear Malik’s breaking down of prevailing beliefs may get lost, no matter how pertinent her warnings.
[Malik] presents her case persuasively, with admirable clarity, and in doing so cuts through a lot of the messy, often befuddling noise ... I welcomed Malik’s frank refusal to engage in debate with the myths she considers. Instead, she deconstructs them for the fictions they are ... Malik is a clear, accessible writer, and her book is well-researched and thorough; her tone neither ironic nor sneering. To an extent, this work is also a call to arms.
[Malik's] childhood disillusionment forms the compelling and much-needed emotional core of We Need New Stories ... to its benefit, doesn't begin and end with Trump. While he and his populist, ad hoc movement are very much the oxygen that enflame Malik's activist outrage and academic curiosity, her book ranges more widely. It's split into six sections, each of which tackles a single, urgent topic, from feminism to free speech to Black Lives Matter. She astutely lays out her argument: that the twisting of stories and negation of facts by the right is only nominally ideological, if at all ... Many efforts have been made over the past few years either to pillory or justify the thoughts and feelings behind such reductive jargon. Malik breaks down these complex dynamics with efficiency — but also wit, charm and warmth ... Malik's tone is both conversational and crystalline, and her plain-spoken yet authoritative tone stirs rather than browbeats. Even when she's aiming the reader inward by probing the pitfalls of self-denial and self-delusion, she doesn't come across as didactic. At the same time, she subtly conveys the idea that the problems of identity politics can tend to stem from personal identity; acknowledging that power is a big step toward enacting external chance from within ... The paradox Malik points out in her introduction to We Need New Stories is a profound one ... In her measured yet passionate voice, these statements aren't simply observations. They're rallying cries.