The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi [in Library Journal]
Initially, there were two: aging filmmaker Waldo and his 22-years-younger wife of 20 years, Zee. Bed- and wheelchair-bound for three years, Waldo has “been expecting to die any day,” he admits. “I was enjoying my decline and slipping away cheerfully, and now this happens.” Because now there are three: Eddie, “scamp, ligger, and freeloader” for 30-plus years, who’s also a movie journalist and “self-avowed expert” on Waldo’s work, seems to have moved in, not only into Waldo’s London flat but into Zee’s bed as well.
Waldo improvises a revenge plan, which requires growing his players by two. So now there are five: Waldo’s celluloid muse Anita and Eddie’s manager, Gibney. With the help of whispering waiters, heavy BAFTA awards, and a final cup of scalding tea, Waldo relentlessly directs the scenes to ensure “posterity won’t miss a moment.” Writer/playwright/screenwriter Kureishi (The Buddha of Suburbia) enacts wicked vengeance on weakness and betrayal in a narrative starring a fading megalomaniac.
Verdict: Libraries serving urban, cosmopolitan readers should prepare for ardent Kureishi fans; new readers, however, might opt for the author’s earlier fare, as the characters here might prove too predictable, even downright tedious.