Thursday, 10 September 2020

The Nacullians by Craig Jordan-Baker

The Nacullians by Craig Jordan-Baker
Published by Epoque Press today, the 10th September 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Welcome to the world of The Nacullians, three generations of one family, living in a brick house in a line of other brick houses. Craig Jordan-Baker's dark comedy charts the tensions and traumas of one family and their relationship with the city they inhabit.

The Nacullians is an intriguingly unique novel with a a truly distinctive narrative voice. I think it would work brilliantly as an audio book, but even while reading the prose I felt as though I was actually listening to the narrator. We never find out exactly who he is, but I loved the natural way he speaks directly to the reader, his wicked sense of humour and his genuine understanding of both the Nacullian family and the dismal unnamed city in which they live. I rarely quote from novels in my reviews, but I will here just to give you an idea of quality of Jordan-Baker's style:
At this point your narrator recognises the need to move forward a couple of years or so, as very little changed in that house, aside from the dog passing away and milk delivery becoming less and less popular. You might say that time during this period was like a saveloy under a chip shop heat-lamp, close to closing time. That is, life looked pretty much as it always had, but it was somehow less appetising.
The Nacullians tells the story of the gradual disintegration of an Irish family who immigrated to England for work in the post-war years, and how decisions taken by the older generation affect their children and grandchildren as the years go by. Some events and behaviours repeat like family traits being passed down, others are single shocks with unfortunate repercussions. Now I come to write up the book, it does all sound rather depressing, but Jordan-Baker's dry humour prevents the story from becoming too maudlin and, instead, I felt more of a resilience and resignation from Patrice and blind pride from Nandad, with Shannon and Bernard each struggling to find their own identities. Each member of the family is convincingly portrayed and I found myself recognising aspects of my own childhood in the historical details of everyday English life for working class people. The relationships between them are superb with what goes unsaid being often far more important than any uttered platitudes or well worn phrases.

The Nacullians is a brilliant family portrait and I am very grateful to Epoque Press for the opportunity to read this novel.

Etsy Find!
by Lindy Pop Chocs in
Brighton, England

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Craig Jordan-Baker / Contemporary fiction / Books from Ireland

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