Book review: The Glutton explores a visceral hunger to connect

Award-winning author AK Blakemore’s second novel, based on a real historical figure, is gripping, empathetic and startling in its immediacy

AK Blakemore: one of the main accomplishments of this deftly written novel is the writer’s depiction of Tarare as a complicated, even contradictory character

The inspiration for AK Blakemore’s second novel is a real historical figure with a notorious appetite. Born around 1772 near Lyon and known only as Tarare, the French peasant turned street performer gained – and appalled – audiences through his eating habits.

Tarare’s reputation was forged by consuming live cats and lizards and by swallowing eels whole. Near the end of his life, he was rumoured to have eaten a child.

In Blakemore’s fictionalised account, ...