‘Eleven’ by Mark Watson

Are you familiar with the nursery rhyme ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…’? Eleven by Mark Watson is a sophisticated version of that.

The story centres around radio DJ Xavier Ireland, whose single action, or rather lack of action, has a domino effect in the lives of eleven people living around him in the city of London.

There’s elements of Sliding Doors in this book – every so often the narrator hits the fast forward button and you get a glimpse at the fate of a particular character –

“Jamie – who lives in the garden flat downstairs, and will one day develop an antibody against two kinds of cancer…” and “The owner of the corner shop, a cheerful paunchy middle-aged Indian man who will die in three years’ time, puts Xavier’s items into a blue plastic bag…”

The story is carefully crafted, the crossover moments between the characters, seamless. I’m sure it’s far more difficult to mesh so many characters stories than Watson makes it appear. Continue reading