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Whit [Paperback]

Iain Banks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Sep 1996

A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing... Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager.

When her cousin Morag - Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian's four-yearly Festival of Love - disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon...

Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; 'herbal' cigarettes and compact discs - Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (12 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349107688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349107684
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description


Fierce contemporaneity, an acrobatic imagination, social comment, sardonic wit...the peculiar sub-culture of cult religion is a natural for Banks, and Luskentyrianism is a fine creation (THE TIMES)

One of the most relentlessly voyaging imaginations around (SCOTSMAN)

Entertaining...comically inspired (GUARDIAN)

Banks's remarkable juggling act, alternating his mainstream novels with his widly imaginative science fiction fantasies, is notable most of all for the continuting growth and assurance he displays in any genre... [WHIT is a] delicious satire on both the re (PUBLISHING NEWS)

Book Description

* Paperback reissue of a modern 'Pilgrim's Progress' - Iain Banks' WHIT.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whit and Wisdom of Banks 26 Jan 2006
By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE
Iain Banks first novel, The Wasp Factory, was published in 1984. In the years since, he's won critical acclaim, topped best-seller lists and has even written Science Fiction books under the cunning nom-de-plume 'Iain M. Banks'. He's also seen this book, "The Crow Road", adapted for television by the BBC in 1996. "Whit" is his eighth non-sci-fi book, was first published in 1995 and comes with the subtitle "Isis Amongst the Unsaved".
The book's central character is Isis Whit, commonly called Is - though more formally known as Blessed or Beloved Isis. Isis is a Luskentyrian, a member of a religious sect founded by her grandfather, Salvador. Like him, she is very important to the faithful - she holds the position 'Elect of God' and is a future leader of the Luskentyrians. Home is High Easter Offerance - located in Scotland, on the banks of the River Forth. The book opens in May 1995, when Isis is nineteen years old and with the Festival of Love approaching. The Luskentyrians consider people born on the 29th of February very special - the Blessed Isis herself was born on that date. As a result, a Festival of Love is held every four years - at the end of May in the year preceding a Leap Year. As the end of May is nine months before the end of February and it is a Festival of Love, I'm sure you can figure out what happens at it...
Isis' cousin, Morag - while not strictly considered a missionary - has been living in London for six years. Based on her letters, it appears she has become a successful musician - an internationally renowned baryton soloist, no less. She had been due to return to High Easter Offerance for the festival, where she would have been the Guest of Honour.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting! 7 Oct 2004
By A Customer
It's hard to pigeonhole Iain Banks. As a writer he's traversed the entire literary landscape of Scotland in every medium from science fiction through thrillers, warped social satire, and even the literary equivalent of the road movie, if you count "Raw Spirit". "Whit" has a little bit of all of the above. Its leading character is also unlike almost all other Banksian narrators: the teenage Isis Whit, brought up in a remote commune by an other-worldly religious cult, is a far cry from the cynical, dysfunctional individuals who are Banks's stock in trade. In fact she's more like a modern-day Alice exploring a Wonderland of modern technology, habitual dishonesty, sexual weirdness, and unconventional spirituality. Her breathless naivety as we follow her travels through her own wide eyes paints a remarkable picture of life in modern Britain, and colours a mystery as gripping as that of "The Crow Road" and just as enchanting. Of course, by the book's end, Isis has had to come to terms with the realisation that all is not necessarily as it seems in Paradise; she leaves us older and wiser, but not, we hope, disillusioned.
For me this is easily one of Banks' best books. It's the only one of his that you might seriously contemplate lending to your grandmother and is much more accessible to the Banks newcomer than much of his work. The mystery element which pervades the story is fascinating, making this an un-put-downable read. And there are enough searching questions about life, God and the world we live in to make this much more than just another mystery story. The quirks of Banks' writing style and the weirdness of his characters come across in the most engaging way. 450 pages will pass like they're 100.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By degs
Banks does an excellent job here of turning what is in essence a simple story into a fascinating and enjoyable journey. Isis is supremely-well depicted, the events richly and vividly portrayed, and some of the characteristics of those involved so believeable that you could not help but feel real empathy (or disdain, depending on who it was) for the main players.
But it is at the higher levels where you find the true value of this book, because it forces open even closed minds on the trickiest of subjects, introducing it as it does in a dismarming, balanced, entertaining and unprejudiced way, lightly tugging at one's conscience and provoking a very considered personal response.
Cleverly done, as one would perhaps expect, but nonetheless both entertaining and rewarding throughout, and well worth the read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Isis is the central figure in a small, Amish-like family cult in a remote part of Scotland.
She is sent out on a quest into the wider world to find a cousin who has disappeared, and begins a voyage of discovery about herself, the cult and its various members. Her most significant revelations, however, occur after she returns home.
This story is quirky and amusing with delightfully empathetic characters, and a lightness of touch in the writing. It's not a simple or facile tale though and it'll keep you thinking long after you finish it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes I liked it!! 25 July 2011
By A. Pick
Yes I liked this..... a novice IB reader and only the 3rd of his books I have read.... As any IB reader will have found they are all so different and I think that's what makes them so readable. I wont give the plot away as some reviewers do but will make this short and sweet! I enjoyed the naive but strong main character ,loved the language and her Quaint ways and words...... I actually didn't want to put the book down which is unusual for me...so yes give it a go!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read
Enjoyed this unusual book from Iain Banks. An intriguing read to keep you page turning. Thoroughly recommended. Read it now.
Published 3 months ago by R. Penny
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I first read Whit about 15 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Some really funny moments throughout the book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer Juniper
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read
This man’s writing is like a treat for me. It always seems so effortless that I never think of the writer writing it, only of the story unfolding before me. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Wormwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic
Ian Banks on top form with an absorbing and comical look at religious cults. It's inciteful and written from a young woman's viewpoint and her relationships across all generations. Read more
Published 6 months ago by John man!
5.0 out of 5 stars Hate and love
I hated this to start but loved it by the end. Very engaging, if you suspend your local knowledge about the river Forth.
Published 9 months ago by Mr. Andrew Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Tongue well and truly in cheek
Well written satire concentrating on alternative beliefs and the way they can be altered to suit the situation. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mme M Jessica Milton
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing read
Somehow this book escaped me, despite being a long term fan of Iain Banks' books of all genres. What a joy to find such a gem so soon after feeling bereft that there would be no... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. S. Duffy
5.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling at its best
I have to come clean and admit to being a huge Iain Banks fan. His books do not fit any one genre and are just storytelling at its best. Read more
Published 10 months ago by R N McConnachie
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
This is Banks at his best. It is clever, funny, and imaginative. The religious sect he conjures up is a tour de force. I can totally recommend this book, buy it and enjoy.
Published 10 months ago by brooklawncello
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
I read it for Book Club and all five of us found it okay, but no better than that. Isis isn't a very convincing woman in my opinion, she seems to take some stuff in her stride that... Read more
Published 11 months ago by T-bas
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