Nina X by Ewan Morrison review – life after Comrade Chen

This moving tale of growing up in a Maoist cult, and the traumatic aftermath, explores ideas of freedom, control and identity with warmth and humour

Ewan Morrison has written about cults before. His last novel, 2012’s Close Your Eyes, told the story of Rowan, a woman whose identity was forged in a 70s commune, and who seemed unable to fashion a self free from the overpowering collectivism of her upbringing. That novel played intelligently with pronouns, moving between the we of the collective and the you that Rowan employs (instead of the elusive I) when recounting her tale.

Close Your Eyes felt like a break from Morrison’s previous work, which began with three books exploring the darker reaches of human behaviour – Swung, Distance and Ménage – and moved on to a formally interesting but ultimately flawed examination of capitalism in the fragmented Tales from the Mall.

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