Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Recommendations for Brethren

I wrote my novel, Brethren, for a doctorate in creative writing at the University of Kent. I recently had the viva exam for this, and I passed with no corrections to the thesis. As I'm now looking for an agent or publisher for Brethren, I thought it might be helpful to publish a couple of quotations from the official examiners' reports.

From the external examiner, Adam Roberts: 

I have read a dozen—more, probably—CW PhD submissions novels over the last several years, and I am comfortable saying: Brethren is the best written and most compelling of them all. To put it plainly: this is an extraordinarily accomplished piece of fiction, that works at once as an extremely immersive and convincing historical novel (I remember the 1980s very well, and [it] gets every flavour and moment and nuance spot-on) and a compelling weird, often revolting but also haunting and even borderline transcendent Fantasy about the numinous intruding into our world. The technical mastery of character, dialogue, descriptive prose, the ability to select exactly the right detail to add vividness and atmosphere, without ever overloading the reader with too much detail, is close to impeccable. This is manifestly publishable work.

From the internal examiner, Amy Sackville:

Both components of the thesis, the novel, Brethren, and the critical essay on ‘Christian Fantasy’, are of an exceptionally high standard: intellectually rigorous, ambitious, and written with flair and originality. The novel asks questions about loss and faith—how it is practised, negotiated, and experienced—and brings both the fantastic and quotidian vividly to life. It is at once a grand metaphysical fantasy, and a story about teenagers coping with grief. This is a sincere exploration of the possibility of transcendent, or even meaningful, experience—through religion, but also through music, and in the end, through human contact. Indeed, the community offered by faith is only one aspect of a broader concern with belonging, solidarity, connection, vs. iconoclasm, individuality, and ego. … The uncanny or weird elements are realised in a way that tests the boundaries of language and description, making for a reading experience that is, at times, genuinely disturbing and disorientating. … The novel is technically adept—in terms of plotting, pacing, structure, characterisation, and the creation of a world, and in the management of tonal register—the book is deeply serious, at times horrifying, yet also funny, poignant, and moving.

No comments: