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The Dig [Hardcover]

Cynan Jones
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

2 Jan 2014
This is a searing short novel, built of the interlocking fates of a badger-baiter and a disconsolate farmer, unfolding in a stark rural setting where man, animal, land and weather are at loggerheads. Their two paths converge with tragic inevitability. Jones writes of the physiology of grief and the isolation of loss with brilliance, and about the simple rawness of animal existence with a naturalist's unblinking eye. His is a pared-down prose of resonant simplicity and occasional lushness. His writing about ducks and dogs and cows is axe-sharp. There is not a whiff of the bucolic pastoral or the romanticized sod here. This is a real rural ride. It is short, but crackles with latent compressed energy that makes it swell to fill more space than at first glance it occupies.

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The Dig + The Long Dry + Everything I Found on the Beach
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (2 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847088783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847088789
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cynan Jones was born in Wales in 1975.

His first novel 'The Long Dry' (2006) won a Society of Authors Betty Trask award and has since been translated into numerous languages.

His second book 'Everything I Found on the Beach' was published by Parthian in June 2011.

Both books will be re-released in July '14 by Granta, working in partnership with Parthian.

His latest novel is 'The Dig', a chapter of which was shortlisted for the 2013 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

He is also author of 'Bird, Blood, Snow', a re-telling of the Medieval Peredur tale, written as one of Seren's 'New Stories from the Mabinogion.'

For updates and news, visit www.cynanjones.net


Product Description

Review

'The plot is winningly sparse. The first twenty pages possess a sharp exactitude, like a taut line of barbed wire. The detail of the prose is remarkable.' --Literary Review

'By turns chilling and haunting, The Dig is a visceral indictment of the continuities between the use and abuse of animals, and a meditation on the casual violence of ordinary men.' --Patrick Flanery, author of Absolution

'A brilliant novel - tense, tough and haunting.' --Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine

'The Dig is a muscular, sinewy book. It reads like Cormac McCarthy meeting Ted Hughes down a dark country lane. Altogether The Dig is nasty, brutish and short, and thoroughly memorable' --John Self, Asylum

'The Dig is a marvellous novel... It is raw, brutal stuff, and Jones tells it with freshly scoured clarity. There are echoes of Ted Hughes, Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway. It can be read like poetry, letting the words resonate in the skull until the tantalising patterns of its deeper meaning emerge' --The Times

'Dramatic, beautifully drawn and powerfully immediate... Jones has a wonderful eye and his prose can feel as ruminative as a sheep's slow deliberate chewing' --The Sunday Times

'The Dig is short, dark, intense... It's raw, brutal stuff' --'Our Critics' Choice', The Times

'Dark, tense and vital... Jones's spare prose is reminiscent of early Ian McEwan, although several similes are more adventurous... The Dig is brilliantly alive; a profound, powerful and utterly absorbing portrayal of a subterranean rural world' --Guardian

'A powerful novel about isolation and loss, written in wonderful pared-down prose, from a former Betty Trask award-winner' --'Must Reads', Observer

'The Dig explores its central themes - loss, isolation, nature - through dry, punchy storytelling. Each sentence has been neatly sculpted to develop a rich poetry from the stuff of rural life' --New Statesman

'There's something of John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and the Old Testament to this short, sharp, brutal and bewitching tale... Beauty and barbarity, tenderness and heartlessness are mixed in prose that reads like stark poetry. There's almost too much truth in this unforgettable novel. But great beauty too' --Monocle

'A short novel that packs the compact force of a lightweight boxer... Jones has hewn an earthy, flinty language. We can only wonder at what this singular voice might create next' --Metro

'There's something of John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and the Old Testament to this short, sharp, brutal and bewitching tale... Beauty and barbarity, tenderness and heartlessness are mixed in prose that reads like stark poetry. There's almost too much truth in this unforgettable novel. But great beauty too' --Monocle

'It's dark, disturbing and lyrical' --'Telling everyone to read...', Herald Magazine

'There's something of John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and the Old Testament to this short, sharp, brutal and bewitching tale... Beauty and barbarity, tenderness and heartlessness are mixed in prose that reads like stark poetry. There's almost too much truth in this unforgettable novel. But great beauty too' --Monocle

'The Dig is an important and superbly written book with the ability to deeply move the reader' --Tivy-Side Advertiser

'Tenderness and brutality are folded together in this chiselled gem of a novel. Jones has a poet's eye for detail' --Intelligent Life

'Brief yet powerful... The Dig is rich and deeply felt, and combines a visceral emotional punch with a beautifully detailed sense of place' --New Welsh Review

'Tenderness and brutality are folded together in this chiselled gem of a novel. Jones has a poet's eye for detail' --Intelligent Life

'A small, beautifully-formed tale of loss set against the brutality of badger baiting... Jones proves that the short novel can be as epic, and stylistically demanding as a long one. Set amid hostile nature, it reflects on loss, mourning and how the natural cycle of death and decay impacts on the soul. Not bad at 176 pages' --Arifa Akbar on the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize finalists, Independent

'Tenderness and brutality are folded together in this chiselled gem of a novel. Jones has a poet's eye for detail' --Intelligent Life

About the Author

CYNAN JONES was born near Aberaeron, Wales in 1975. His previous novels are The Long Dry (winner of a Betty Trask Award in 2007), Everything I Found on the Beach, and the retelling of a Welsh myth Bird, Blood, Snow. In 2013, the chapter 'The Dig' from this novel was shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Dramatic Novel 18 Jan 2014
By ACB (swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This remarkable novel is set in a remote Welsh farm. The opening describes the brutal finishing off of a badger that has been ripped to shreds by the terriers of the unnamed 'big man'. He seems to derive a sadistic pleasure in his terriers' mutilation of the badger and with his own boot skull-cracking, then running over the animal in the road to make it look like a traffic accident. He is an unscrupulous badger digger who is handsomely paid for bringing townies in for the dig and selling them to be tortured in private fights with dogs in the company of a paying, betting audience. This cruel illicit 'sport' is graphically described by Cynan Jones without sparing any of the gruesome details.

He lives nearby Daniel, an exhausted farmer in the lambing season, struggling financially and trying to cope with the sudden traumatic death of his wife three weeks earlier. He is in denial as he constantly feels her presence and says 'I can hold onto her. I can hold on to her inside'. Working alone, not eating or sleeping, he is more at home in the sheep shed filled with lambing ewes he finds 'maternal and quiet' as opposed to the house where he fantasises his wife is still in bed. He frequently recalls his life with her on the farm in a way that she is still with him. He delivers a malformed lamb and cannot take his father's advice when he was farming that sometimes a decision has to be made between a quick misery or a slow misery. Daniel is unable to choose. He later has no choice with a ewe that would die without swift action from Daniel.

As a boy, Daniel accompanies his father on his first dig, watching the cruelty of flushing out a dazed badger and the blooded, wounded, exhausted terriers sent into the sett.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary talent 29 April 2014
Format:Hardcover
This short novel took my breath away.
Daniel, a sheep farmer, recently and tragically widowed, somehow ploughs on with his solitary life. Much of his time is spent in the lambing shed where he witnesses and is involved with the most basic processes of life and death. Exhausted by grief and on automatic pilot, he reflects on his marriage and the wife he's lost. At the same time, 'the big man', is busy securing live badgers for baiting. He is ruthless, pitiless and inured to the suffering he's heaping on these creatures. The only chink in his emotional armour seems to be his dogs. Inevitably Daniel and 'the bib man's' paths cross.
In this simple but devastating story, Cynan Jones once again shows his total mastery of language and total understanding of the harsh realities of rural life. It's brutal, visceral and never sentimental. And SO TRUTHFUL. Read it. In fact read everything he's written because his is an extraordinary talent
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing 15 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Finished 'The Dig' last night and just wanted write to say how astonishing I thought it was. It has stayed with me all day, nagging like a half-forgotten but always present thought. The control and sheer pathos of the first section moved me to tears and I found myself holding my breath at times. The language and particularly the modal verb use is so powerful; indeed daring in a way that I never encountered. I loved the raw power of the characters; and the bravery of the ending is a triumph.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and haunting 30 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this and very much liked the style of prose - but I felt it was lacking a bit - I wanted to know more about the characters and it just drifted off a bit at the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 15 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fascinating book that captures rural life in the raw. Can be rather depressing in parts but extremely real life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dig 21 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover
The Dig is the highly emotional, often very troubling story of two very different men: Daniel is a struggling, recently bereaved farmer who carefully nurtures the lives of the lambs that he rears while Ag (not his real name but perhaps the most appropriate choice) is troubled man who captures and facilitates the torture of badgers for the amusement of others. The two men live close to each other in an unnamed rural area of Wales and their disparate lives have set them on a collision course with one another that can only end in tragedy. There is a timeless quality to The Dig for all its brutality as it is ultimately the story of the relationships, both positive and negative, that men have had with the land since the dawn of time. While there are nods to modernity and to the difficulties that people who choose to make their living from the land have nowadays, many of the struggles facing Daniel and Ag have been in existence seemingly forever. The Dig is an intense, impressive novel about the hardness, undeniable beauty and occasional cruelty of modern life in the countryside.
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