‘The Oddfits’ by Tiffany Tsao – abandoned at 25%

Why was I so surprised by how odd this book is? It’s right there in the title: ‘Oddfits’. It’s about people who don’t fit in, who are so obviously and fundamentally out of tune with where they are that it’s clear that, although they’re there, they belong somewhere else.

Yet I didn’t expect a Roal Dahl meets Kafka reading experience that made me feel so off-balance, making me feel that I, the reader, was the oddfit who couldn’t quite grasp what was expected of me or what I should expect of the author. I’m a quarter of the way through and I’m still not sure what is going on, what is going to happen next, or even what kind of book I’m reading.

The writing is deliberately stylised in a formal old-fashioned fairy story way when the narrative is being moved along but becomes keenly nuanced in terms of accent and dialect once we get to dialogue. There are some disorienting inversions: like Brit parents in Singapore complaining that they’re not ex-pats but naturalised citizens and their son was born there and so they should be treated just like everyone else. Or getting a lobster’s eye view of a restaurant where it’s on the menu. And there’s a constant promise that it will all make sense soon when our young hero accepts his oddfit destiny and becomes someone special.

But I’m sad to say that I can’t settle to this book. It’s too strange for me. I can’t find my balance. It feels like being thrown around on a fairground ride. The only option is to give up control and go with the ride. The thing is, I hate fairground rides. I’d pay to get off them. So I’m getting off this ride and moving on to something else.

Your sense of balance may be better than mine and you might find this fun. Click the SoundCloud link below and see whether it appeals to you.

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