**Finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize**
**Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the Roehampton Poetry Prize**
From the award-winning British author—a poet's noir narrative that tells the story of a D-Day veteran in postwar America: a good man, brutalized by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it, yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.
Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can't return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he finds his way from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but—as those dark, classic movies made clear—the country needed outsiders to study and to dramatize its new anxieties. Both an outsider and, gradually, an insider, Walker finds work as a journalist, and tries to piece his life together as America is beginning to come apart: riven by social and racial divisions, spiraling corruption, and the collapse of the inner cities. Robin Robertson's fluid verse pans with filmic immediacy across the postwar urban scene—and into the heart of an unforgettable character—in this highly original work of art.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this insistent novel in verse from Robertson (Sailing the Forest) captures a D-Day veteran's tortured reckoning with the postwar hollowing out of downtown Los Angeles. Back from Europe, Walker is mesmerized by L.A., "the city/ a magnesium strip; a carnival/ on one long midway." That romantic view is tempered by the city's underbelly of violence, racism, and poverty, which he encounters as a cub reporter. Dismayed by Skid Row, he pitches a feature on homelessness that sends him up to San Francisco and its "play of height and depth, this/ changing sift of color and weather." Walker returns to find downtown L.A. being "demolished and rebuilt" into highway interchanges and parking lots. "The drumfire of falling/ buildings" calls back Walker's war memories, and Robertson skillfully intermingles imagery of battles in France and L.A.'s demolished blocks to powerfully contend that "cities are a kind of war." Less convincing is when Robertson exchanges his magnificent depictions for pedantry, including the declaration that "they call this progress, when it's really only greed." Still, this novel succeeds in bringing life to a crucial moment of urban history; Robertson's vision of Los Angeles under siege is simply indispensable.