Wednesday 15 January 2014

The Dig - Cynan Jones

With the badger culls still in the news this feels topical, however it isn't that which makes this such a dramatic and moving book. This is rural Wales with all the romance sucked out of it, leaving only the dirt, blood and harsh reality. The story maybe short but that doesn't prevent it having an impact as the reader is drawn into the lives of Daniel, the grieving sheep farmer, and Ag the badger-baiter. I defy anyone with an ounce of empathy to read this book without being moved by the depiction of raw grief given here, or by the visceral dark images of the fate of the creatures Ag digs out of their setts. It is inevitable that the two men's lives will collide. The ending is left uncertain but we can assume that we know what has happened. It is often difficult to convince people that short novella style books are worth buying, but this one manages to create a whole convincing world with a few well placed lines and is worth every penny.
This book had me in tears a number of times and also made me think about why there do seem to be so many badgers by the side of the road a certain times of the year. Needless to say I'm now busy looking out other books by the same author to see if they can compare to this wonderful novel.

As an aside, I've just read an amazing review of this book, written by Patrick Barkham the author of Badgerlands. I certainly hope that reviews like this one help launch this book to the success it is due.

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