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Salt Slow by Julia Armfield, review: a savage, blackly thrilling debut

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Julia Armfield was last year's White Review Short Story Prize winner
Julia Armfield was last year's White Review Short Story Prize winner Credit: Picador

Last year, Julia Armfield won the White Review Short Story Prize with “The Great Awake”, an unnerving tale about insomnia incarnate. (First sentence: “When I was twenty-seven, my Sleep stepped out of me like a passenger from a train carriage, looked around my room for several seconds, then sat down in the chair beside my bed.”) The prize has never gone amiss; previous winners include Sophie Mackintosh, who went on to be Booker-longlisted for The Water Cure, and Nicole Flattery, whose debut collection Show Them a Good Time is a dark, disorderly joy.

In salt slow, Armfield’s own debut, “The Great Awake” isn’t the best story of the nine; it might not even be in the top three. These are thrillingly...

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