Natasha Brown is a British novelist. She was a 2019 London Writers Award recipient, a 2022 Burgess Fellow at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, and a Women’s Prize x Good Housekeeping Futures Award finalist. Assembly, her debut novel, presents a biting critique of class and race relations in Britain. Brown’s writing is concise, intellectual and fluid, and reveals the elasticity of the novel form.
She is the author of the novel Assembly.
A gold bar is deceptively heavy. Four hundred troy ounces, about 12.5 kg, of ultra-high-purity gold formed into an ingot – a sort of slender brick crossed with a pyramid. Holding one such bar on a chilly September evening last year, thirty-year-old Jake marvelled at its density; how the unyielding sides and edges felt awkward, yet somehow natural, in his hands. Behind him, from the main building of a Queensbury farm, music and coloured lights throbbed against the night sky – a so-called illegal rave, roughly one hundred youngsters partying in defiance of the UK government’s lockdown restrictions. Jake didn’t look back towards the noise pumping from the farmhouse where he’d spent most of his fraught 2020. He wasn’t even looking at the gold, not really.
The bar in Jake’s possession was a ‘London Good Delivery’ – literally the gold standard of gold bullion – worth over half a million dollars. An obscene concept; Jake couldn’t quite believe it was possible to hold so much ‘value’ within his two hands. Let alone to wield it. Again and again. Again. Until his target had finally stopped moving. But it had happened, hadn’t it? Yes, it had happened. He couldn’t stop himself from staring at the proof. The motionless body lying at his feet.
At some point that night, or perhaps as daylight crept in at the edge of the horizon, Jake managed to stop looking and start thinking.
He decided to run.
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