I received a copy of The Afterparty from its publishers, Jonathan Cape, but as I have little interest in celebrity culture or the newspaper industry, the blurb held little appeal. I then saw a glowing review from Kim, and although our taste in books usually matches I assumed that her career in publishing accounted for her love of this book. A few weeks later intriguing debates started to crop up all over the place and I decided that I’d have to give this book a try. I fully expected to hate it, but I was wrong. I was quickly drawn in to it’s clever narrative and this book has become one of my favourites of 2011.
The Afterparty follows a struggling journalist who is asked to attend a celebrity party. His job is to get as much gossip as possible in order to write a column, but he doesn’t find integrating with the other party guests easy. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’ll reveal no more about the plot other than to say that are affairs, a death and all the bitchiness you’d expect to find in this cut-throat world – it is a gripping read with numerous twists and turns.
It also has an original structure – the main narrative is interspersed with email correspondence between the “author” and his “agent”. This allows the reader to see changes in the book’s construction as it is written, adding an unusually entertaining depth to the story.
One of the things that impressed me most was the use of real “celebrities”. I often find books frustrating because the characters are based on real people, but I can’t quite work out which ones. This didn’t have the same problem as numerous real celebrities appear and actually interact with each other. I wondered how the author could get away with the (often controversial) conversations these people had, but the Vintage podcast revealed that all the conversations were taken from transcripts of things they’d actually said and so (fingers crossed) he can’t get into trouble for it.
The Afterparty is extremely timely and (after the recent phone hacking scandal) I was amused to find that Rebekah Wade makes an appearance. The book ends by giving a thought provoking insight into celebrity culture and achieved the almost impossible task of making me feel a little bit sorry for them and their non-stop glittery life.
The Afterparty is like nothing I’ve ever read before, but if I have to draw comparisons then it would be with another of my favourite books of the year, The Nobodies Album. Both are original, of the moment, and cover both celebrity culture and novel writing.
This book will divide opinion, but the great thing is that it will get everyone talking. I highly recommend that you give it a try, if only so that you can join in the debate.