From the author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller
Longlisted for the Booker Prize
'Startling, moving and overwhelming . . . Wonderful.' Daily Telegraph
'A devastating, disquieting and exhilarating book.' Psychologies
'Books this good don't come along very often.' Maggie O'Farrell
'Stunning and deeply affecting.' Nathan Filer
'A magically beguiling work, a triumph.' Financial Times
'A thing of total joy . . . thrums with rhythm and life.' Observer
'A remarkable feat of literary virtuosity.' Sunday Times
Not far from London, there is a village.
This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England's mysterious past and its confounding present.
It belongs to families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here, such as the boy Lanny, and his mum and dad.
But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.
In his bold second novel, Porter (Grief Is the Thing with Feathers) combines pastoral, satire, and fable in the entrancing tale of a boy who vanishes from an idyllic British village in the present day. Lanny is an elfin, perpetually singing child "more obviously made of the same atoms as the earth than most people these days seem to be." He is a mystery to his parents, recent transplants to the picturesque, increasingly fashionable (and expensive) town: the mother is a former actress working on a gruesome novel, and the father's a yuppie commuting to London. Lanny's somewhat cloying eccentricity ("Which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope?") captivates a reclusive artist, "Mad Pete," who gives him drawing lessons, and enchants Dead Papa Toothwort, the town's ancient and resilient presiding spirit: " build new homes, cutting into his belt, and he pops up adapted, to scare and define." Toothwort is a mischievous, Green Man esque deity who prowls the village "chew the noise of the place" and especially enjoys feasting on Lanny's song. When Lanny goes missing, the suspicion falls on Mad Pete, and the resulting media blitz turns the village into a "hideous ecosystem of voyeurism," exposing its rifts and class resentments. In the novel's satisfying conclusion, Toothwort stages a hallucinatory play that reveals Lanny's fate. This is a dark and thrilling excavation into a community's legend-packed soil. \n