Allen & Unwin website
Dark, witty and thoroughly original, Debi Alper is an author to watch.
Comic, fast-paced, edgy and peopled with a fantastic cast of weirdos
and misfits Nirvana Bites is a brilliant debut from a daring new talent.
Cath Staincliffe, Manchester Evening News 28.6.03
When unemployed Jen goes for an interview for a post as a researcher at the BBC she walks in on a scene of mayhem: a naked man stands on top of a ladder, his most private parts attached to a chain and his colleagues seemingly incapable of talking him down. But Jen recognises the man from his distinctive piercing as Stapled Stan, a regular on the S&M scene, and she persuades him not to jump. Stan, married to a high profile Tory MP, is being blackmailed and Jen is enlisted to try and find out who’s calling the shots. Assisted by fellow members of the Nirvana Housing Co-op, a handful of outlandish and damaged individuals who still manage to function as a collective, Jen becomes enmeshed in a world of murky dealing. Sustained by vegetarian feasts, regular spliffs and occasional flurries of direct action, the motley crew discover the trail leads them to the aquatic shop, Koi Korner. When Jen’s friends are on the receiving end of some very ugly violence things get a lot heavier.
Comic crime caper from Alper who writes with panache and affection about the alternative worlds of co-operative living, new agers and fetishists. She’s very funny and … delivers a very entertaining read. A fresh voice we should hear more from.
Big Issue 30/6/03
A quick-paced and witty trawl through London’s sub-cultures.
Publishing News 21/2/03
A mix of funny, sad and astute.
Zaria Shreef, New Books Magazine Issue 17
A funny, decidedly unpretentious thriller with a sub-cultural cast of characters and a fantastic heroine … From the first page NIRVANA BITES is a gripping, witty and distinctive read. It may stick in the throat of the old-school, anti-pc brigade, but its cast of lesbians, New Agers, animal rights activists and drop-outs is an engaging and refreshing alternative to the usual cast of fictional characters … An education for those who have no inkling of the S&M, drug and anti-capitalist scenes, it’s great fun.
Marcia Wellington, The Beaver 7/10/03
A hilarious whodunit set in the backdrop of the netherworld … A side to humankind that is dark and sinister yet, in spite of the negative environment, love and a true sense of family prevail. Woven into all this is a mystery to die for (some did) that kept me guessing to the end … It allowed me a peek into the dark, disturbing world of S&M, junkies and the otherwise fringe elements of society … A series of comical twists and turns … NIRVANA BITES is a definite must read for all mystery buffs. Otherwise it’s a good/funny/sad/whimsical book for those of us who just like a good read.
Readers’ reviews on Amazon
Dark deeds in Peckham, June 17, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from London United Kingdom
“Nirvana Bites” is a thoroughly good read. Set in ‘Nirvana’ a Housing Co-op in South London, it is the story of Jenny and her friends’ struggle against some of the dark forces which beset 21st century life. Well written, fast paced, bursting with humour, energy, compassion and rage it is both a nail biting thriller and a dark comic satire on aspects of modern society which some might prefer not to know about. I read this book in two sittings, engrossed, unable to stop turning the pages, by turns delighted, horror struck, convulsed by the humour, and moved. I was startled into a belly laugh in the first chapter, smiled often as I read, gasped equally often, felt my skin crawl with horror towards the end and ended the book with tears prickling behind my eyes. You can’t ask for more than that.
The blurb rells me that this is Debi Alper’s first book. I can’t wait for her second.
Wake Up, October 10, 2003
Reviewer: Emma from London
The novel is narrated by Jen, toughie sleuth from Nirvana housing co-op, on the trail of a bunch of nasties. Cinematically visualised, with its in yer face dialogue and Scooby-doo pace, it is set firmly in a Lenny Bruce/Marx Brothers tradition, and superficially it is brazen wit that draws the reader onwards and upwards into a thickening plot. The true basis of this book, though, is not cheap laughs but a story of profound humanity. A passionately felt manifesto against ignorance and prejudice.
Realise,then, how fuzzy we have all become in our dotage. It’s a wake up call to anyone in their 40′s in South London (or anywhere else) who gets a sense of deja-vu from this novel but would rather have a lie in. Read the book and make the film.
Bursting with energy, NIRVANA BITES is a brilliantly observed comic triumph, and heralds the arrival of a highly individual and hilarious new voice.
Give Me a Break
Becoming a bit fuzzy? Here’s a in yer face tale of blackmail, villainy, bondage and housing co-ops that really kicks. Get down to a bit of amateur sleuthing and have some laughs by all means, but wake up to what you know is really going on.
Daily Mirror 26/7/03
Look out for NIRVANA BITES by Debi Alper – dark comedy as Jen’s job at the BBC leads to bondage and blackmail
Families SouthEast June 2003
Full of wild and whacky underground characters, involved in a weird world of eco-terrorists and S&M.
Magenta Publisher June 2003