Stump is Niall Griffiths' fourth novel. In it he continues to document life in the margins of British society.The narrator, a Liverpudlian alcoholic, has fled the violence and depravity of his life in the city. The man, nameless, now lives in the seaside town of Aberystwyth, west Wales, where he is seeking to rehabilitate himself and make a fresh beginning. And a recent accident has resulted in the amputation of his left arm, leaving a stump.
Learning to live with this handicap provides both a focus and a challenge, but he finds himself prey to terrible cravings for drink. Meanwhile, Liverpool hasn't forgotten our narrator. During his rough years there, brushes with sinister elements in the underworld earned him a dangerous enemy. Now, sentimental and weakened by his fight with alcohol, he sends a postcard from Aberystwyth to Merseyside. The gesture may prove fatal: word of his whereabouts gets around the 'Pool, and soon two thugs are driving through the mist and mountains of north Wales to satisfy a gang leader's lust for revenge.
The book unfolds with alternate chapters set in Aberystwyth and in the southbound car respectively. The nameless narrator feeds a fox, visits the doctor, and watches gulls. Tension builds as the car nears Aberystwyth. Two distant, contrasting worlds orbit one another and are pulled together. Collision seems imminent: will the thugs accomplish their mission or, having reached their destination, find that their pursuit is futile and return north? Griffiths' Stump is written with a mesmerising command of idiom, and with a raw energy which has come to be associated with his work. Readers of Grits (Vintage, 2001), Sheepshagger (Jonathan Cape, 2001), and Kelly and Viktor (Jonathan Cape, 2002) will love it.
'Niall Griffiths is one of the most exciting and gifted writers to have emerged from Britain in years. Stump is a magnificent novel of loss and obsession written not only with great skill but the kind of heart and soul we’d expect from such a major talent.'
'This book is a powerful mix of beauty and rage—a panoramic examination of society’s underbelly, so rarely given a voice in contemporary fiction.'
Jonathan Cape (2003)
Rogers, Coleridge & White
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
T +44 20 7221 3717
F +44 20 7229 9084
Czech Republic - Triton
Latvia - AGB
Serbia - Fabrika Kniga
US - Graywolf Press