- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books (24 Jan. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1783783656
- ISBN-13: 978-1783783656
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow Paperback – 24 Jan 2018
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'Just stunning -- The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow is a work of dancing brutality and ferocious tenderness, properly wild and utterly welcome' -- Lisa McInerney
'A dystopian baroque, postmodern fairy tale, with gangsters, eternal rain and a contested baby... The world that Denton creates is thrillingly realised' -- Financial Times
'Denton's captivating debut novel, which imagines a grim dystopian Ireland that is all too believable [is] a highly original novel... Mashing ancient myth with a miserable future, Denton's fierce and distinctive debut should set the books world alight' -- Irish Times
'A dazzlingly inventive adventure in the possibilities of storytelling, as the Kid heads into his future, with danger on his heels and a lush, brash lyricism as armour for the upcoming battle' -- Daily Mail
'[With] dizzying playfulness, parts are told by a Death-like figure called Mister Violence, parts in script form [and] spectacular set-pieces... Stylish' --New Statesman
'This book will blow your mind. Written in a hurl of playful poetry and whip-smart prose... Utterly extraordinary, it's best you read it. Right now' -- Emerald Street
'Denton's stylish writing is a gorgeous mash-up of lush lyricism, vivid theatrics and heartfelt emotion' -- Sunday Express
'A great, imaginative cloudburst. Torrential in theme and execution, a mighty debut' -- Mike McCormack
'Denton's cinematically vivid descriptions of this drowned world are among many highlights... The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow really soars in its style... original, poetic and beguiling' --Irish Independent
About the Author
Danny Denton is a writer from Cork, Ireland. He has been awarded several bursaries and scholarships for his work, and has published work in various journals. This is his first novel.
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The novel is a distinctive one that defies simple categorisation: dystopia, gangster noir, a drama about a baby, a stylistic experiment that jumps between lyrical prose and play script. The plot itself is quite simple, but told in a complex way that creates mythology in an atmosphere of unrelenting rain. In some ways, it is another Irish gangster story; in others, it is a new dystopian set amongst religious tradition, distrust, and a lot of water. The Kid’s desperation to care for the baby is heartwarming and their survival becomes the reason to keep turning the page.
Denton has written a fresh novel that blends genre and writing style in a bold way. There is something about the short, sharp scenes, mix of forms, and stylistic and violent future that makes the book in some ways feel similar to good graphic novels, though it is text-based. This is a novel for fans of gangsters and dystopias, a modern noir with a bit of heart.
During the beginning of TEK&TKIY I was concerned that the narrative was a tad too nonsensical and absurd for my liking. It is rather an unusual writing style but I quickly settled into the story and its many dimensions and I am seriously glad I stuck with it as this novel is a remarkable debut for Danny Denton. This is fundamentally both love story and an unusual insight into gang culture. It is also a nightmarish mythological tale about The Earlie King and his tyrannical reign over a decrepit and weather-beaten Dublin, Ireland.
Within these pages is an expose about happened between The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow. How the King and his Earlie Boys had an unrelenting grip on an unreal city, filled with poverty, drugs and dilapidated buildings, where they were feared and the police just stood by and watched, but all it took was one boy and a baby to bring them to their knees. The narrative is split into several arcs that paints a vivid picture of the tremulous events that took place between an unstoppable force and a boy who made a promise to his true love. I had a hard time putting this down after it sunk its claws deep into my psyche.
The main portion of the story is told between a journalist called O’Casey, who is looking into The Kid In Yellow’s story and the endless crime surrounding the Earlie Boys, and The Kid In Yellow himself and his shaky truce with the King. The King’s daughter died in childbirth and TKIY is the father of the child. Both men made promises to the daughter before her death. TKIY honours his promise to his love and in doing so all hell breaks loose. It is a familiar style story, forbidden love and gang culture, but it is Denton’s satisfying delivery of the plot and the many additional narrative styles that he included that made this novel special.
Told from many different perspectives and in several vastly different formats, Denton reveals an Ireland that is rough, depleted, riddled with gangs (as well as violence) and flooded from the constant rain. The reader follows several drastically different narrative styles from the The Kid In Yellow’s grief stricken and chaotic decision to steal his daughter back from the clutches of The Earlie King to O’Casey’s big expose on the Earlie gang and their violent grip on the city. Both plot lines follow the kid’s journey but O’Casey is there to work out the kid’s motives, the how and the why which is very helpful with a tale as unusual as this.
Some of the plot is also divulged through a scripted play that features The Earlie King, his gang members, a masked vigilante called Saint Vincent and an other worldly presence called Mr Violence who is a kind of puppeteer working in the shadows. A splendidly alternative style to the others which adds more tension to proceedings. There is also straight-forward and insightful sections from policeman Fran Ward perspective who is following the chain of events, always one step behind. I know it sounds like a lot to process but it totally works and each direction the novel goes in adds a new angle to the turmoil ravaging Ireland and the battle for power, understanding and sanctuary.
I loved this novel as it is just so cool; the imagery is creative and anarchic while also being genuinely moving at the same time. It does deal with plenty of difficult themes like teenage parenthood, gang violence and seeking redemption through religion or force. But it is also a deeply beautiful piece about a man (or boy in this case) doing right by the one he loves. The Kid In Yellow has to navigate a labyrinth of chaos to achieve his plans and it is populated by a selection of memorable, courageous and fearsome characters that had me in constant awe. Especially Mister Violence and Saint Vincent who aren’t included in the story very much but have an exceptional presence in the novel ramping up the fear and unpredictability.
My favourite character is by far The Kid In Yellow. His bravado and the devastation he leaves in his wake is amazing. He also kind of revives my faith in humanity’s youth. For the TKIY to lose so much but still remain fatherly and focused was special to witness (even if it is just fiction). TKIY fears the Earlie King but not as much as not keeping a promise to his beloved. Their haunting interactions fleshed out TKIY’s reason for taking on a supposedly un-defeated kingpin.
Denton’s writing is certainly unique. It is rough and gritty but also lyrical and poetic. There is also this unforgettable mythological/folklore aesthetic that adds a whole extra dimension of depth to the reading experience. The distinctively different world that this story occupies is odd at first, with it’s unique dialogue and irregular perspective, the plot did make for a challenging read but it agreed with me really well. I have to say that I think there is probably a bit too much going on in this novel but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I liked the short and punchy chapters. A couple of pages here and there of each plotline was enough to create a cascading and vivid stream of narrative. The pacing was spot on and Denton developed the story well enough that I never caught myself wondering when it was going to pick up or move on. I was captivated by TKIY’s journey and the threats he faces. The Earlie King is a formidable enemy with a past that is more legend than real.
‘The stranger had become the king of the province now – that was the way it worked – and this drew different types of people to him. But what is said is that while people came to the Earlie King at his hotel room with offers of business or work, of payment for protection from gangs, of family and marriage, it always felt when he decided to deal with them that he was taking what he wanted. Everything was on his own terms. You wonder whether it was all intentional, from that first insult from that first trader. Whether everything that happened, happened by the sheer dint of his will. This is what a god does. Or a daemon.’
I could tell that DD was passionate about the novel and was drawing from many different inspirations. There is an obvious Romeo & Juliet vibe but it is displaced, already warped by prejudices and death and this is a story of a grieving individual taking the situation into his own hands despite the obvious danger. The narrative is admirable and the main characters are few but well thought out. I do think this might be too much for some readers as it does chop and change quite a lot but I think that worked in DD’s favour. The constant change in pace, tone and view made for a more mystic and enigmatic narrative. Jumping from poetic prose and haunted dialogue to a straight up evil stage play gave this book a quality that I don’t think DD could have achieved with just a straight forward story.
Overall I do recommend this to all calibres of reader. There is plenty of aspects included in TEK&TKIY that will appeal to different styles of reader but the fundamental love/danger story that is explored within is hard not to get sucked into. I was with The Kid In Yellow all the way through and I found his quest brave and admirable. I am so curious to see where Danny Denton is going to take his writing next! I hope he keeps on this path of beautiful mayhem that he has created for himself
The story is set in Dublin, but this is a future, dystopian cityscape. A long time before the events of the book, lost in the backstory, some kind of climactic disaster took hold where it started raining and never stopped. Much of Ireland is now flooded and people have never seen the sun. The author uses the constant rainfall to great effect, people have to wear skins when they go outdoors - waterproof honchos basically - but more than such obvious facets are the subtle details, the constant sound of rainfall, the size of the raindrops, all of which imbue this novel with real atmosphere. Then there are the slugs. Due to the giant rainfall, the slugs are all massive. There are harmless, this is no schlock horror, but it's just an icky detail that works and gives the world the author's created more depth.
The story itself is based around the Kid in Yellow, a kid who wears distinctive yellow skins and who works as a runner for the Earlie King, a gang boss in charge of the brutal Earlie Boys. One day, the Kid meets the King's daughter, T. A romance blossoms and T falls pregnant. Her pregnancy lasts for twelve months, not uncommon in this polluted world and she dies in childbirth. The Earlie King banishes the Kid after giving him a beating, but the Kid in Yellow can't bear the loss of T and promised her he would care for their child. He sneaks into the Kings home, takes the child and goes on the run.
I won't divulge any more of the plot for fear of spoilers, but this is a book that is well worth a read. If I have one criticism it is that Danny Denton's writing style takes some getting used to. In particular, when writing dialogue, instead of using the traditional inverted commas he uses this symbol: /. At the beginning I found this very distracting and was worried I wouldn't through the book. As it is I persevered, soon got used to it and was rewarded for doing so. For The Earlie King and The Kid in Yellow is a beautiful tale beautifully told.
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