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Wall Of Days [Paperback]

Alastair Bruce
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

In a world all but drowned, a man called Bran has been living on an island for ten years. He was sent there in exile by those whose leader he was, and he tallies on the wall of his cave the days as they pass. Until the day when something happens that kindles in Bran such memories and longing that he persuades himself to return, even if it means execution.

His reception is so unexpected, so mystifying that he casts about unsure of what is real and what imaginary. Only the friendship of a child anchors him as he retraces the terrible deeds for which he is answerable, and as he tries to reach back, over his biggest betrayal, to the one he loved. Wall of Days is a profoundly moving novel about guilt, loss and remembering.

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Clerkenwell Press (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688003
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alastair Bruce was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1972 and emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1997. He currently lives in south-west London with his wife and daughter.

Product Description


A riveting and overwhelming story, told by a consummate storyteller who appears well set to become a defining novelist of our time (André Brink)

Wall of Days is a brilliant debut novel, in fact it is a brilliant novel altogether. The prose is understated and clear, and the narrative arc buries complex ideas of guilt and accountability within simple events (Cape Times)

Book Description

A stunning novel of guilt and loss and remembering - now an Amazon Rising Star

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT BOOK 16 Aug 2011
What makes a good book a great book? I am not sure that I can articulate that, however Wall of Days is a GREAT book. Were it possible at the time I would have read it in one sitting. The book is beautifully written and thought provoking. Between reading it I found my thoughts wandering back to the story and the book's narrator, Bran.

Bran has committed a terrible crime against his community for which he has been exiled. An event leads Bran to return to the people who have sentenced him knowing that it may result in his own death. The author gives you enough information to guess what this crime is, however when your thoughts are confirmed one is still horrified. Bran had clearly committed this act but was it a crime given the circumstances and why should he alone be accountable? There is a complex morel dilemma that Bruce forces the reader to think about throughout the book. While this is revealed fairly early in the book the reader is kept interested through the gradual addition of detail, by Bran who is the narrator of the story (can his views be trusted) and the fact that one really never knows where the book is going and how it will end.

I read the book too quickly but I couldn't put it down. I want to read it again as I know I missed so much the first time. I have never felt the need to read a book twice. That is what makes it a great book for me.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly engrossing 4 Aug 2011
I loved this book. It is elegantly written in deceptivly simple prose, which leaves plenty of space for interpretation and consideration. In a nutshell it is about guilt, both personal and collective, and the role of the scapegoat. Or perhaps it is about love and duty. I found that I was thinking about it whenever I stopped reading, and while reading I was entirely wrapped up in it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the far future, Bran has been on his island for ten years, carefully counting the days. He expects to be there another 20 years, until he dies. He feeds himself on fish, crabs and vegetation and keeps a fire lit in his cave on the high ground by digging peat and felling a tree every eight weeks. It rains almost all the time, making the island continually smaller as the sea rises. He has long since stopped talking to himself. He is 53.

Almost all the earth is under water, civilisations long lost and forgotten, whole dead cities visible on the ocean bed. Bran was the leader of his people, first a warrior, then the broker of peace with the rival land of Axum, exiled later for creating The Programme -- a plan to cull the old and infirm to conserve resources and ensure the survival of his race.

One day a silent man is washed up on the island and Bran believes that he recognises him as Andalus, the leader of Axum. Concerned by this trespass, he determines to go home again, even if it means his death. But his land has changed: people are no longer short of food, no one he knows is to be found and no one seems to know who he is. He has been erased from history.

Has he miscounted the years of his exile? Does Andalus exist outside his imagination? Is he mad? Dead? Has he left the island at all? I honestly did not expect these questions to be answered but, largely, they are, although that raises other questions.

Human sacrifice can take many forms: willing victims to appease the gods; or men who make the hard decisions -- decisions that their more prosperous successors want to bury beneath a mound of lies and denial.

It's an intriguing novel, original, compelling and, perhaps surprisingly, a good and easy read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visionary and profound 16 Aug 2011
Seldom in recent years have I been so deeply impressed by a first novel as by Alastair Bruce's visionary and profound Wall of Days. In spare and luminous prose reminiscent of J.M. Coetzee and José Saramago it recounts the story of Bran, who has been exiled to a small barren island after having ruled over his country as its near-dictatorial Marshall. Like Robinson Crusoe he learns to become self-sufficient; but there are signs that as he advances in years, his little island is steadily being eroded by the elements and that for both of them an end is imminent. The arrival, ten years later, of a bleached and bloated stranger, whom Bran recognises in due course as his counterpart from the once neighbouring country of Andalus, brings about a crisis that may decide the fate of both men. The remarkable achievement of Wall of Days is that the gathering conundrum of the plot never becomes part of an abstract or philosophical debate, or a `mere' postmodernist game, but is fully embedded in the facts of a riveting and overwhelming story, told by a consummate storyteller who appears well set to become a defining novelist of our time. (André Brink)

Set in a distant, but easily imaginable future, Wall of Days tells the story of a ruthless leader who is banished to an island and, after discovering a mysterious castaway on his shore, returns to his community to seek out the truth about his and his people's horrific past. This is an allegorical novel of intellectual richness and ethical depth on a par with such masters of the field as J.M. Coetzee or Margaret Atwood, and surprising in a young debut writer. The novel's bearing on the way we practise history, and on the way we deal with responsibility and guilt, is striking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Clever... Or?
I found this book started incredibly well and was ultimately an atmospheric, thought-provoking and suspenseful read, though the middle section did seem to drag somewhat. Read more
Published 18 months ago by CaSundara
1.0 out of 5 stars I hated this book
I hated this book like I've never hated a book before.

I found the first few chapters gripping, then the massive amount of detail started to get tedious. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly riveting read
It is rare for a book to make me stop and think so often whilst reading it, even when when I had finished it, I reflected on what it meant for a long time. Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2012 by K. Glaister
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written book.
The wall of days is a well written, suspenseful fiction. It is beautifully written in the first person narrative. Read more
Published on 21 Mar 2012 by Uenna
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and compelling
I have had this novel sitting on my 'to read'' pile for a few months now, the first time that I tried to read 'Wall of Days' I just couldn't get into it, I must have been in the... Read more
Published on 21 Mar 2012 by I Readalot
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and very thought provoking
Initially it took me a little while to get into this, but that was more perhaps to do with my state of mind at the time. It is well worth the perserverence, a very rewarding book. Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2012 by Mr. M. L. Cawood-campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and thought-provoking debut
The premise of "Wall Of Days" is simple: a man has been exiled on a island for ten years. It's a damp, inhospitable place, home to a few stunted trees and some seabirds;he lives a... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2012 by C. O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
A simple story, beautifully written, but with real depth of emotion, not to mention edge of your seat suspense. Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2012 by chris
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Depressing
I bought this book after reading the above five star reviews. I was looking forward to its arrival and started reading it as soon as it arrived. Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2011 by Sandgrounder
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating novel from a new author.
This is Alastair Bruce's debut novel and in my opinion he has a great writing career ahead of him. He writes in a style that makes his novel an easy read - and a book that you... Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2011 by Mr. P. HAIGH
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