The Disappeared, a new work of fiction from the philosopher Roger Scruton, tells what is fast becoming an everyday tale of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in our society. Published in the wake of the shocking revelations of the Jay Report, it could not be more timely. The report detailed the systematic grooming, rape, abduction and trafficking of 1,400 children by gangs of mostly Asian men in Rotherham over a sixteen-year period. The police and local authorities knew about the activities of these gangs but ostensibly failed to act for fear of invoking charges of racism. Scruton’s novel, set in a bleak, decaying South Yorkshire town, is almost impossible to read purely as fiction as it mirrors so closely the events in Rotherham.
Scruton uses fiction to explore complex issues – in his view too long obscured by political correctness and cultural relativism – about the difficulties of integrating immigrant communities and their religions, particularly those with radically different attitudes towards women. The Disappeared is primarily a novel of ideas. Discursive passages on