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ISBN 978-1-909585-42-3
 first published September 2021; 180 pp
paperback with endpapers; 198 x 129 mm

£8.99
Click here to read a pdf extract.
 Carmel Doohan was born in Birmingham. She studied Fine Art in Nottingham and has lived in Bristol, London and Glasgow. She has a PhD from the University of Glasgow and teaches creative nonfiction at Bishopsgate Institute. She lives in a village on the edge of the Peak District with her partner and young daughter.
 
Carmel Doohan, Seesaw

 
Seesaw is a shimmering challenge to certainty.’ – Maria Fusco

‘Supple, fearless and poetic.’ – Chloe Aridjis


When life gets hard, what will you do to the Other to protect yourself?

Boats are sinking in the Mediterranean, and Siobhan begins work at a night shelter for asylum seekers. At the same time she is coping with the fallout of her relationships with an identical twin sister, an ex-girlfriend, and a boyfriend with whom she can no longer have sex. As political conflicts escalate she begins to recognise the destructive, zero-sum dynamic she learned in childhood and is forced to acknowledge her own violent logic of self-preservation.

Drawing on cinematic montage, the narrative renders fragments of memory, experience and observation in a pattern of shifting analogies that work to illuminate the possibility of a less binary world.

‘In its intimate and dazzling constellation of anecdote and memory, Seesaw’s form seems to be exquisitely composed by the very alliances of correspondence, analogy and sympathetic magic that its narrator dare not believe in. Siobhan’s struggles speak to an existential and political urgency: how does anyone keep balance while seesawing between the personal and the collective, past and present, brutality and hope, the authentic and the algorithm? Seesaw’s brilliance is its refusal to settle easily on either side, all the while reminding us that the middle ground should be more than just an idea – it should be capable of sustaining life.
     ‘I know that this novel, and its searching, unafraid narrator, will stay with me for a long time.’
     – Daisy Lafarge

Seesaw is not only a novel about identity and sibling relations. It is one of gender and mental health. Through the use of metaphors, trivia about pop culture and symbolic encounters, Carmel Doohan has created a complex character who is trying to find their way in the world, and complicated one at that. The mixed-up jigsaw puzzle feel of the book also helps understand the many things that are going on in Siobhan’s mind. To continue on the jigsaw analogy, the more we read the more we understand about Siobhan’s life. Not to mention that the prose is crisp and highly readable.
     ‘Without mincing any words, Seesaw is excellent. It is captivating and interesting. I will guarantee that the reader will learn a lot of things in the process and, as someone who has never been a twin. I got a lot of interesting insight into them as well. The novel’s publisher CB editions has released many interesting and mind-bending books in the past but Seesaw might be their best one to date.’
     – Robert Pisani, The Bobsphere (full review here)

‘… Increasingly, Siobhan is caught up with scientific ideas around mimicry. Doohan quotes the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of a skeuomorph: “an object or feature which imitates the design of a similar artefact made from another material”.
     ‘Tom, the boyfriend inevitably on his way out, accuses her of addressing her sister when she argues with him. He has a point. She has flashbacks to times the sisters have injured one another; it becomes clear she is nursing a zero-sum idea of self-preservation, where one rises at the expense of another. This jumbled sense of self, eternally fused with the fortunes of her twin, has made her other relationships dysfunctional.
     ‘These psychological concerns make an intelligent premise for a novel and Doohan does it justice: Seesaw is an unexpected, novel challenge to binary thinking.’
     – Laura Waddell, Scotsman