Every year The Man Booker Longlist usually features a small percentage of well known authors a couple of debuts and a spattering of unknown authors and their second novels. This year the list only featured one debut author who was new to me and that was Fiona Mozley with Elmet.
Daniel and his sister Cathy live with their father in a field in Yorkshire (the Elmet of the title) with a small copse of trees in the background. The father, John leads a violent life however it is in a sort of robin hood way. He’ll help the poor but beat up the rich and wicked. Life goes on peacefully until greedy landowner and all round entrepreneur Mr. Price wants his land back, which John retaliates by becoming a spokesperson for worker’s rights. This develops into revenge tale of the highest order.
Elmet is a Gothic novel. It is dark, unsettling and it’s sinister ending is pulled off with panache. However it is also a political novel, which questions the right of land ownership and worker exploitation, which is a common theme in this year’s Man Booker Longlist. Elmet slyly gives a picture of modern day society – one which is being milked dry by the powerful and needs to be overturned. Mozley, through the narrator if the book, Daniel, questions gender and sexuality. Daniel is portrayed as effeminate while his sister flexes the muscles. This is another theme that is dominant in this year’s list but I think it works well in this novel.
I always feel that I have to justify my ratings. The reason why I gave Elmet four stars is because I felt that the six interludes could have been a stronger contribution to the novel’s plot. Other than that minor gripe, I’m glad I read this novel and I’ll definitely read what Mozley will write next.
This review was originally on Goodreads