Winner of the Creative Non-Fiction Award, Wales Book of the Year 2015
When the author is given a small package, containing letters and papers relating to his grandfather’s brother, who was killed in Syria during the Second World War, it leads him on an extended personal journey. In trying to uncover and understand his Uncle John’s life and personality and the circumstances of his death, the narrator begins not only to realise more fully the human impact of wars but also to question and trace connections with his own experiences and feelings in the present and the past. Woven seamlessly together, these strands are patterned into the fabric of a more general exploration of history, imagination and the process of memory, shifting imperceptibly from autobiography to travelogue, from letters and diaries to official records, from text to visual image. The engaging, almost stream-of-consciousness, style draws us in, guiding us unerringly along unexpected paths through changing scenes, times and moods, now grounded, now dreamlike and mysterious. Yet nothing is accidental in this carefully crafted narrative: haphazard experiences and memories are gradually linked and reassessed, until finally a new narrative of the past emerges to inform and elucidate the present.
Katie Gramich’s masterful translation brings Llyr Gwyn Lewis’ first and award-winning prose work to a new readership, returning us once again to his rare and consummate literary talent. Deeply rooted in his Welsh identity, this young writer locates his own and his family’s experience within the wider European world in a thoughtful, mature, and highly original way, most recently displayed in his collections Fabula (2017), and rhwng dwy lein drên (2020).
'Mature, adventurous, intelligent.'
'A novel which attempts to document a period of great change, a coming to terms with mortality - a period not until now described or explored by a poet or writer with such intimacy and honesty.'