I'm very grateful to my colleagues for giving their time to review the novella. Other reviews welcome - contact @drkcarrutherst
telling the untold Rob Smith @R0b5m1th
Five Survive Lockdown is a graphic novella that draws the reader cleverly and with great subtlety into the world of working and studying at Hightown University during the Covid pandemic. Setting a scene that will be familiar to any HE academic, there is wry satire as we are introduced to the five characters: one sitting in the “Bezos Enterprise Hub” while another wonders about her ‘bookcase credibility’ before a meeting on MS teams. With crisp and deftly drawn images, Kate Thomas’s novella captures the minutiae of lockdown without avoiding the big issues of the pandemic. The five narrative strands are skilfully woven together to reveal an interconnectedness. Within the individual narratives, we catch glimpses of the national events that impact so much on the characters’ social lives. Other significant global and local events also intrude – notably BLM and community foodbanks – giving a stamp of lived history and reminding us how the world appeared to be teetering on the edge of disaster and confusion. For me Five Survive Lockdown threw up the thought that behind every article, conference paper and newly published book that emerges from HE in the next few years, lurk stories exactly these. They largely remain hidden, being viewed as incidental or otherwise peripheral to ‘serious’ academic work, when, in fact, they constitute the social conditions which shape this work. And therein lies the beauty and the truth of this novella lie: its telling of the untold and its illumination of the everyday.
the ripple travelling inwards Lara Carballo @LaraTC1
This insightful novella introduces us to the complexities facing the life of the working academic during the periods of coronavirus lockdown. There is a refreshing honesty that highlights the reality of the compounding stresses facing all within the university environment as the new normal begins to emerge. The reader is reminded of the current reliance on technology, and the new frustrations encountered through bad networks and inefficient hardware. There is a definite feeling of the therapeutic as the writer honestly acknowledges some of the true effects of the virus upon the individual at a time where relationships have been forced to change, and as loved ones have been kept at a distance or sadly lost. Kate Carruthers Thomas offers us a succinct and accurate chronicle of this global event and reminds the reader of the effects of the ripple travelling inwards from the ever-changing governmental edicts to the ill-informed individual. Welcoming us into the lives of 5 individuals navigating their ways through the new chaos, this work of art illustrates the dichotomous realities of the 'before' and 'after', and of the 'personal' and the 'professional' which is further bolstered by its witty yet poignant use of the graphic medium itself.