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Robbed of his ancestral home - a near-derelict hovel in the mountains of west Wales - Ianto pledges revenge not only on the English yuppies who have turned his grandmother's cottage into a weekenders' barbecue party but on all those who have violated him and the land that is his. This latest act of colonial oppression and desecration triggers his lurid and strange imagination into unspeakable savagery - embodying our most primal fears of physical threat, a world beyond our control.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285182
ISBN-10: 0099285185
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » At first glance, half-wit and fully wild Ianto seems an unlikely candidate for greatness. He sleeps rough, he steals, he takes handfuls of drugs and spends most of his dole money on cider and raves. He's barely capable of stringing a complete sentence together and is unable to grasp even the basics of personal hygiene. In short, Ianto is a dole-scrounging waster with no discernible future. But when he's cast off his grandmother's land and out of his ancestral home, the only legacy he had to call his own, the horrifying past he's never been able or even allowed to cope with seeps into the present. In a swirl of psychotropic drugs and deep, instinctual urges, Ianto makes his fame among his parasitic circle of friends and the quiet, unassuming village he lives on the fringes of. This book is coursing with gritty emotion and the violent climax leaves nothing to the imagination. Yet there is a grim beauty and depth in this harsh Welsh landscape, profound thoughts in the expletive-laden conversations and terrible insights into the nature of humanity itself. This is a novel that demands to be analysed and re-read, as knowledge of Ianto's dark secret lends an additional intensity to the book and highlights the subtle hints and clues scattered throughout. Some may find the dialect difficult, which is why it may benefit from more than one reading - but, as with Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, the reader comes around to the language of Ianto's world. As you become used to the dialect, the cursing not only seems essential, but melts into the background until you hardly notice it. Don't read this book expecting a few hours of light entertainment. This is a deeply disturbing, highly intense and stunningly talented piece of work that will resonate for a long while afterward. Niall Griffiths is a talent to watch and wait for. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Griffiths comes storming out of Wales, much as James Kelman and Irvine Welsh have from Scotland, in an angry, violent, lyrical American debut about a rural killer. The Welsh countryside may be a bleak place where children are conceived through "a knee-tremble in an outhouse," the abandoned lead mine still "sweat[s] its sly venom," and the rugged landscape defeats any attempts to walk upright, but the halfwit orphan Ianto loves it fiercely, the more so after he is dispossessed of his ancestral home. When he grows up to commit horrendous crimes, his former mates-hardly more articulate than he-try to understand how and why, or whether, to "Just fuckin accept-a fact that yer are things in-a world that yew'll never fuckin be able to understand." Their ongoing conversation in dialect is one thread of a three-fold narrative. Italicized sections in simple yet poetic prose offer scenes from Ianto's childhood, with the violence of the natural world stirring and disturbing his senses. The story of his adult years is told in elevated diction that often soars, sometimes evokes the naturalist's expertise (in a single paragraph about a sheep tick are "scutum," "dermal," "capitulum," "chelicerae," "hyposteme," and "palps") but occasionally overshoots the mark (bodies left on a battlefield are "defenestrated"). It also features a murder so graphic that some readers will want to skim, while the aimlessness of the main characters-unemployed, their Welsh cultural birthright replaced by a culture of casual brutality, drugs, and alcohol-sometimes makes the attention falter. The nationalist agenda portrays the posh English as regularly abusing the locals with verbal and sexual as well as economic violence: the one decent person here is an old woman who feeds and cleans Ianto and speaks only Welsh, the native language he cannot himself understand. Powerful, mostly successful mix of primordial savagery and contemporary malaise told in fierce prose. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Niall Griffiths

Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool in 1966 and now lives in Wales. He is the author of six novels: Grits, Sheepshagger, Kelly + Victor, Stump, Wreckage, and Runt.

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