About this title:
"Sheepshagger" is the story of Ianto: the inarticulate, inbred, ignoble savage. It is also the story of Ianto the seer, the visionary who comprehends Nature with a Blakean intensity, at one with the world he lives in. The novel is both these stories, both these people, and the character that emerges is one of the great creations of contemporary fiction. Robbed of his ancestral home - a near-derelict hovel in the mountains of west Wales - Ianto pledges revenge not only on the English yuppies who have turned his grandmother's cottage into a weekenders' barbeque party but on all those who have violated him and the land that is his. This latest act of colonial oppression and desecration triggers his lurid and strange imagination into unspeakable savagery - embodying our most primal fears of physical threat, a world beyond our control.
Written in rough, tough and fiercely native prose, Sheepshagger is a coming-of-age ensemble novel about a bunch of promiscuous, disenchanted, druggy Welsh youngsters, growing up in a world from which they feel disconnected, surrounded by a beautiful countryside they struggle to understand. In the middle and somehow pivotal to this motley Celtic crew is Ianto: a genetically unfortunate ne'er-do-well who yet possesses the spiritual centredness the others lack. It is Ianto who relates to the rurality around them: "the lightning blasted blackthorn", the "same soil his forefathers dug in". As a result of the strange, totemic figure he cuts, Ianto manages to hang with the others and become something of a mascot to them, even though they tease him mercilessly about his virginity. The dialogue is vivid and believable, in an expletive-rich Irvine Welsh way. The intervening descriptions are spare and impressive, although they sometimes strain too hard towards lyricism: "he is like something dredged from the harbour long sodden in silt and brine, a being discarnate of mud and stagnant water". The book culminates in a rural cop-chase; however the true poetic essence of the book is its very contemporary take on Welshness. Griffiths' second novel is a modern-day elegy to the put-upon man-of-the-woods, the long-oppressed Celt, the deracinated Taff, the Sheepshagger. -- Sean Thomas
Praise for "Grits" "An astonishing feat -- a work which both challenges and re-affirms the power of the novel." -- Irvine Welsh"Persuasive, alarming and addictive." -- Francis Gilbert, "The Times"
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