- Glow by Ned Beauman
Sceptre, 249 pp, £16.99, June 2014, ISBN 978 1 4447 6551 9
At what point does Ned Beauman’s Glow become fantastical? There’s a kid from South London called Raf who likes drugs and raving. From a girl he meets at a party, Cherish, he learns about Lacebark, an American mining company in Burma that mistreats its workers while its executives swagger ‘like conquerors through the town’. Through Cherish, whose mum was raped by one of the executives, Raf gets involved with a disgruntled former employee and a Burmese ‘terrorist’ cell in London that is planning to take the company down. Now that its mines have become unprofitable, Lacebark has decided to start making narcotics, inspired by a French critical theory text called Lacunosities. The drug they want to corner the market in, Glow, is made out of fox poo – more precisely, its active ingredient is a flower that’s psychoactive only once a fox has digested it – and has become a hit on the London rave scene. Eventually, Raf blags his way into Lacebark’s London warehouse, where they’ve installed a perfect simulacrum of a London street, complete with pound shop, kebab shop, charity shop and bookie’s, in which to train security agents. Those security agents, with seeming impunity, are kidnapping and interrogating members of London’s Burmese community in the search for Win, the only guy in the world who knows how to make Glow and who is actually working in Lacebark’s simulacrum, playing himself in training scenarios for his own capture.
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