Nightshift is the first book I’ve read by Kiare Ladner, and it will most likely be the last. I was distraught that I wanted to read a novel set in London and came across such an unsuccessful book. However, this has been a good reminder for me not to pick up and read relatively new authors.
Nightshift is a bizarre book about a young woman named Maggie who idolizes and eventually becomes obsessed with Sabine, a young woman she meets at work. When Sabine goes to the night shift, Maggie goes to the night shift without listening to her boyfriend. Maggie, who does her best to better adapt to Sabine’s entire life and to find a solid place in this life, eventually loses her boyfriend as well. But over time, we see very clearly that the most significant thing Maggie will lose is not the boyfriend who loves her, but much more.
If I had read Nightshift as a London resident in my twenties, maybe it would have been a book I would have enjoyed. However, at my age, I could not find anything that this book could give me. On the contrary, I got lost among all the events that were tucked in for excitement or to add some colour to the book. Some were gruesome; some were plain stupid.
If there is someone in your life that you are obsessed with, Nightshift may be a book you can find yourself in. Otherwise, I do not recommend it because it is a poor book in terms of literature.
A haunting, compelling debut novel of complex female friendship and obsession, following one young woman’s decision to abandon her normal life and join the otherworldly, nocturnal existence of London’s nightshift workers.
“A firecracker of a book–toxic, sexy, pacey and packed with humor. It’s a long time since I read something so gloriously nihilistic, and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.” — Elizabeth Macneal, internationally bestselling author of The Doll Factory
When twenty-three-year-old Meggie meets her distant and enigmatic new coworker Sabine, she recognizes in her the person she would like to be. Meggie is immediately drawn to worldly, beautiful, and uninhibited Sabine; and when Sabine announces she’s switching to the nightshift, Meggie impulsively decides to follow her. Giving up her daytime existence, her reliable boyfriend, and the trappings of a normal life, Meggie finds a liberating sense of freedom as she indulges her growing preoccupation with Sabine and plunges into another existence, immersing herself in the transient and uncertain world of the nightshift worker.
While the city sleeps, she passes the hours at work clipping crime stories from the next day’s newspapers. The liminal hours between night and day are spent haunting deserted bars and nightclubs with her eclectic coworkers and going on increasingly wild adventures with Sabine. Yet the closer she gets to Sabine, the more Sabine seems to push her away, leaving Meggie desperately trying to hold on to their intense friendship while doubting if she truly knows her friend at all.
A fresh twist on the coming of age story and a dark love letter to city life, Nightshift explores the thin line between self-invention and self-destruction, as Meggie’s sleep deprivation, drinking, and fixation with Sabine gain a momentum all their own. Vividly set in late-nineties London and framed by Meggie’s present-day reflections, Nightshift is a captivating and moving debut that asks profound questions about who we are and if we can truly escape ourselves.
As a child, Kiare wanted to live on a farm, run an orphanage and be on stage. As an adult, she found herself working for academics, with prisoners and on nightshifts. Her short stories have been published in anthologies, broadcast on the radio and shortlisted in competitions, including the BBC National Short Story Award 2018. Nightshift is her first novel, written while studying for a PhD. She grew up in South Africa and lives in London.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: