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26A by Diana Evans.

* 26A by Diana Evans William Morrow, September 2005 $23.95, ISBN 0-060-82091-8

Identical twins have always made for some of humanity's most fascinating subjects, and Bessi and Georgia Hunter, the protagonists of Diana Evans's novel are no exception. (She is the winner of the 2005 Orange Prize Award for New Writers in Britain.) Born to Ida, a Nigerian, and Aubrey, an Englishman, the girls inhabit a world that is mundane and otherworldly.

Neasden, England, where much of the story takes place, is a diverse neighborhood that welcomes the Hunter's British children, even as Ida, with her strong accent and "foreign" ways, grows increasingly isolated from a community that has no place for her.

The story begins with the twins' birth--a violent and dramatic event. It examines the bonds that tie families together and the things that can tear them apart. In the early years, Georgia and Bessi are close enough to read each other's minds, and they share everything that matters, but as they get older and start to forge separate identities, they each make choices that have unforeseen and tragic consequences.

Evans, who suffered a loss of a twin in her own life, writes with humor and great sensitivity, always being careful to affirm her characters' humanity. Much of 26A rests on the power of myth and the sense of a world that exists outside of our own. Evans's 26A is a moving and beautifully written story from a writer to watch.

--Reviewed by Denise Simon Denise Simon is a writer in Brooklyn, New York.
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Author:Simon, Denise
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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