Children of Paradise
From Shelf: The 2023 Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist
Following Grudova's critically acclaimed collection The Doll's Alphabet, this surreal, discomforting debut novel charts the fates of a ragtag group of cinema workers who are spat out by corporate takeover.
'Festers in glorious style' Telegraph'Magnificently spiky' Guardian'Utterly enthralling' Times Literary Supplement When Holly applies for a job at the Paradise - one of the city's oldest cinemas, squashed into the ground floor of a block of flats - she thinks it will be like any other shift work. She cleans toilets, sweeps popcorn, avoids the belligerent old owner, Iris, and is ignored by her aloof but tight-knit colleagues who seem as much a part of the building as its fraying carpets and endless dirt. Dreadful, lonely weeks pass while she longs for their approval, a silent voyeur. So when she finally gains the trust of this cryptic band of oddballs, Holly transforms from silent drudge to rebellious insider and gradually she too becomes part of the Paradise - unearthing its secrets, learning its history and haunting its corridors after hours with the other ushers. It is no surprise when violence strikes, tempers change and the group, eyes still affixed to the screen, starts to rapidly go awry...