Shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger 2015
After his wife, a television journalist, is accidentally killed in an American drone attack, writer Michael Turner turns his back on the house they shared in rural Wales and moves to London, where a developing friendship with the young family next door begins to assuage his grief. One day, however, finding the neighbour’s door open but no sign of life within, Michael investigates, unloosing a further chain of tragic events, tension mounting as the fragmented chronology of events unfolds. Gradually the nature and circumstances of the ensuing tragedy emerge in parallel to Michael’s own backstory and that of the drone operator in distant Nevada, struggling to deal with the implications of his misdirected lethal strike. In this accomplished and absorbing new novel, Owen Sheers, one of Wales’s most acclaimed and versatile writers, explores the nature of direct and indirect guilt, remorse, and questions of personal responsibility for the unforeseen consequences of acts of commission and omission. Timeless human dilemmas take on a dark, contemporary twist in I Saw a Man, where the sensitive depiction of the complexities of human relationships and motivations are skilfully combined with the pace and suspense of a thriller.
'A profound meditation on memory and mourning, Sheers’s novel captures the “unbearably fragile” nature of joy and movingly depicts the haunting physical reminders we leave behind – footprints and fingerprints; breath fogging up glass – and the indelible emotional imprints too, the love that remains long after the beloved person has gone.'
'It is a measure of Mr. Sheers’s artfulness and exquisite narrative control that even though he withholds for half of the novel the solution to the mystery posed in the first paragraph, he never loses us. The suspense is almost physically frustrating.'
The New York Times