Sunday, 5 July 2009

Book of the Week - Edward Hogan, Blackmoor

Blackmoor by Edward Hogan was awarded the Desmond Elliott prize for new fiction a couple of weeks ago, although it was published in 2008. Blackmoor was previously on the shortlist for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize, and Hogan was shortlisted for the 2009 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. He was born in Derby in 1980, a graduate of the MA in creative writing course at the University of East Anglia and a recipient of the David Higham Award in 2003. He currently lives in Brighton, and describes his previous jobs as "grass-strimmer, pot-washer, conservatory salesman, bloke holding the board in Leicester Square, and teacher". Blackmoor is set in a Derbyshire village at the time of the miners' strikes. First editions of the paperback seem surprisingly thin on the ground, but are worth picking up if you can find one.

Beth is an albino, half blind, and given to looking at the world out of the corner of her eye. Her neighbours in the Derbyshire town of Blackmoor have always thought she was 'touched', and when a series of bizarre happenings shake the very foundations of the village, they are confirmed in their opinion that Beth is an ill omen. The neighbours say that Beth eats dirt from the flowerbeds, and that smoke rises from her lawn. By the end of the year, she is dead. A decade later her son, Vincent, treated like a bad omen by his father George is living in a pleasant suburb miles from Blackmoor. There the bird-watching teenager stumbles towards the buried secrets of his mother's life and death in the abandoned village. It's the story of a community that fell apart, a young woman whose face didn't fit, and a past that refuses to go away.

No comments: