Through childhood hopefulness, teenage delinquency, faded first love and middle-aged disillusionment, James Clarke’s extraordinary novel in stories takes us into the Hollow in the Land, a Lancashire valley no longer than ten miles end to end. If you’re born here, you’ll likely spend the rest of your life here, and even those who do make it beyond the bypass often find themselves drawn back. This is a place where the realities of regional decline and political indifference play out in people’s lives: in run-down pubs and sitting rooms, dead-end jobs and black-economy gigs, for-profit care homes, Traveller sites and abandoned warehouses. Clarke’s writing is unsentimental but retains a fierce empathy for the lives it is describing. Through a wide range of characters at every stage of life, Clarke shows us how much of what we become is defined by where we are from.
A literary novel which follows present-day narrator Mathilda’s fixation with the forgotten black Scottish modernist poet, Hermia Druitt, ‘Lote’ is an exploration of aesthetic, beauty, and the ephemeral realm in which they exist.
The Cold War is over and retired secret servant Tim Cranmer has been put out to pasture, spending his days making wine on his Somerset estate. But then he discovers that his former double agent Larry – dreamer, dissolute, philanderer and disloyal friend – has vanished, along with Tim’s mistress. As their trail takes him to the lawless wilds of Russia and the North Caucasus, he is forced to question everything he stood for.
In this story of one man’s lunch hour, the author of ‘Room Temperature’ and ‘Vox’ addresses the big questions of corporate life – such as why does one shoe-lace always wear out before the other, and whatever happened to the paper drinking-straw?