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An Acre of Barren Ground by Jeremy Gavron
In An Acre of Barren Ground, the central character is not a person, but rather a place, Brick Lane in London's East End. Jeremy Gavron creates a history of this acre of ground - people, plants, and animals - from prehistoric times to modern day. A few of the characters are historic, but most are fictional. They include a mammoth, gangsters, a detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper, murderers, Bangladeshis, Jews, Huguenots, brewers, soldiers, farmers and medieval monks. This colorful history of one place across time is a microcosm of human and natural evolution. An Acre of Barren Ground has received positive reviews with The Guardian saying, "I felt as though I'd swallowed a time-drug - it's exactly the effect of all these contrasts, the cumulative magic of the trip the author takes you on that leaves you so moved. Here, in fact, is the best sort of living museum - a novel of imagination and daring whose pages precisely convey the romance of that dizzying idea which lurks at the heart of all history."