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Meatspace – Nikesh Shukla Review

Meatspace – Nikesh Shukla Review

meatspace-nikesh-shuklaReleased: July 2014

Meet Kitab Balasubramanyam, a young up-and-coming Asian author with writer’s block. Kit seems to have a lot of issues. His girlfriend has recently left him, his first book hasn’t been selling as well as was hoped, he’s drinking too much and spending too much time searching social media and building an online persona. He shares a flat with his elder brother Aziz who is his antithesis. Aziz is too busy living life and having adventures to write a book, but he does create a very successful online blog and is gathering a lot more followers than Kit can muster. Kit doesn’t resent this because they have such a close relationship but it’s no surprise that when Aziz heads off to New York, in search of the doppelganger he’s found online, Kit really misses him and doesn’t know quite what to do.

By an unlucky chance, for Kit anyway, his namesake Kit 2 turns up at a book reading in his local and refuses to leave him alone. He stalks Kit as Aziz follows Teddy over in New York, only Aziz and Teddy seem to get on well. Aziz is writing a crackling blog about his adventures which although they seem unbelievable at times are fun and intense and very in the moment. He builds a great rapport with his followers, even the trolls. Kit, on the other hand, is so obsessed by saying the right thing that he often says nothing at all which leaves the field fee for Kit 2 to step in and liven things up a little.

This is a really witty book full of vivid, well-observed characters: the snooty ex, Rachel, the new interest Hayley, and best of all Kit’s dad, an incorrigible drunk with the hugest of hearts. The dialogue is sparkling and the plot brilliant. Although there were a few tiny questions niggling at the back of my mind as I read, everything knotted together perfectly to make things right in the end.

Meatspace could really be an alternative instruction manual on how to get out of the habit of living life online and start actually living. It’s funny, desperately funny at times, but also terribly sad and I wondered how on earth someone could get into so many scrapes and still not be able to think of anything to write about. That is part of Kit’s success though, what makes him so endearing and dare I say human – after all he’s only a character in a book isn’t he?

★★★★★

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