By Alys Conran
A powerful novel about belonging, race, British India and contemporary Britain, by the Dylan Thomas Prize-shortlisted author of Pigeon.
'Beautiful' Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange
'Exquisite' Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest
'Beguiling' Guinevere Glasfurd, author of The Words In My Hand
'An Indian household can no more be governed peacefully without dignity and prestige, than an Indian Empire' The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook, Flora Annie Steel & Grace Gardiner
Magda is a former scientist with a bad temper and a sharp tongue, living alone in a huge house by the sea. Confined to a wheelchair, her once spotless home crumbling around her, she gets through carers at a rate of knots.
Until Susheela arrives, bursting through the doors of Magda's house, carrying life with her: grief for her mother's recent death; worry for her father; longing for a beautiful and troubled young man.
The two women strike up an unlikely friendship: Magda's old-fashioned, no-nonsense attitude turns out to be an unexpected source of strength for Susheela; and Susheela's Bengali heritage brings back memories of Magda's childhood in colonial India and resurrects the tragic figure of her mother, Evelyn, and her struggle to fit within the suffocating structure of the Raj's ruling class.
But as Magda digs deeper into her past, she unlocks a shocking legacy of blood that threatens to destroy the careful order she has imposed on her life - and that might just be the key to give the three women, Evelyn, Magda and Susheela, a place they can finally call home.
ALYS CONRAN's first novel PIGEON (Parthian, 2016) won the Wales Book of the Year Award 2017, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, the Wales Arts Review People's Choice Award, was shortlised for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author's Choice First Novel Award.
Her poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, creative essays, literary translations, and other work is to be found in numerous magazines and anthologies including Stand and the Manchester Review.
Originally from North Wales, she spent several years in Edinburgh and Barcelona before returning to the area to live and write. She speaks Welsh and English as first languages, and also speaks Spanish and Catalan. She has worked as a youth worker, teacher, and in community arts and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bangor.
Her late father, also a writer, was born in Kharagpur, Bengal.
- Other details
- Publication date:
04 Apr 2019
- Page count:
Dignity is an exquisite novel: compassionate, beautiful and unflinching. I'm full of admiration for the skill with which it draws connections between the past and present, and manages to feel both timeless and achingly contemporary. — Fiona McFarlane, award-winning author of THE NIGHT GUEST
Through three women's distinct and wonderful voices Alys Conran explores the nature and meaning of home. The characters in this beautiful novel are fierce, compassionate, angry, but above all, heart-breakingly real. I was drawn in from the very first page. — Claire Fuller, award-winning author of OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS and BITTER ORANGE
In Alys Conran's second novel, she tells the story of Magda, an elderly woman beset with memories of her childhood in India and her growing concern for Susheela, the young woman who works as her carer. As Magda's health fails and Susheela reveals struggles of her own, the women - difficult, complicated, sometimes unlikeable - draw closer in this surprising tale of the British Empire's long reach. This is a beguiling book with a fierce, uncompromising quality to it - a novel that continues to unfold its meaning after the story has ended. — Guinevere Glasfurd, author of THE WORDS IN MY HAND (shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award)
An exquisite novel by a great new talent. — M.J. Hyland, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of CARRY ME DOWN on Alys Conran'sPIGEON
Might have been authored by Faulkner . . . pitch-perfect. — Omar Sabbagh, New Welsh Review on Alys Conran's PIGEON
Deceptively simple... throughly engaging... a timeless quality... I should like to recommend that the unpretentious prose of Pigeon be read primarily for its humaneness and subtle poetical spirit. — Wales Art Review on Alys Conran's PIGEON