In the divisive wake of the Brexit referendum comes Rachel Trezise’s Easy Meat: bold, timely, and unremittingly humane.
23 June 2016 is a day like any other for Caleb Jenkins. The former reality TV star and Iron Man contender now earns his living in an abattoir in the south Wales valleys, working to keep a roof over his bankrupt parents’ heads – their family carpet business now bust – and his conspiracy-theorist brother in check. Over the short course of the novel’s 125 pages this ‘day-in-the-life’ of Caleb, of his town, Rhosybol, and of the conditions at the international melting pot of a slaughterhouse, gain the quality of metaphor, a portrait of the unvoiced ordinariness of grief, rage, and frustrated ambition. 23 June 2016 also just so happens to be, of course, the day of the Brexit vote and as such the book becomes a glimpse of a young man and a country on the verge of a momentous decision.
As her recent playwriting shows, Trezise has the vision and capacities of an overtly political writer, but her success in Easy Meat lies in the sensitivity of its portrait of the widely understood longing for schange, before the consequences of political rhetoric hit home. It is a portrait deeply rooted in the community from which she writes, and which – as captured from her stunning debut In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl onwards – Trezise knows by heart. Though bold as blood, Easy Meat inhabits that grey area which failed to find expression in the black and white binaries of an in/out referendum.
‘A public work of art [...] Few people write about a Wales that I recognise with such an ease and a swagger as Trezise’
Gary Raymond (BBC Radio Wales’ The Review Show)
‘Seldom have I seen a book that deals in such a way with the realities of people's lives in the here and now.’
Noel Megahey (The Digital Fix)
"A one-sitting page-turner that gives voice to the voiceless while checking the country’s pulse, never once flinching from the contradictions of everyday life in modern Wales."
Dylan Moore, The National
"Easy Meat is a sensitive portrayal of people as people – full, complex and multifaceted – whose every choice is shaped by the conflicting experiences and identities that inform who we are."
Polly Winn, The Welsh Agenda