Pity by Andrew McMillan - review by Michael Delgado

Michael Delgado

The Full Maggie

Pity

By

Canongate 192pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

The poet Andrew McMillan’s debut novel, Pity, is set in his hometown of Barnsley and is concerned with the plight of former mining towns like it. Such places are rarely mentioned in the media unless it is ‘for tragic or violent reasons’, we are told in one of the ‘fieldnotes’, passages of sociological research that McMillan scatters throughout his narrative. ‘What must this do to the perceptions of a place, and to residents’ self-perception?’

Pity – beautiful, sparing and impassioned – follows three generations of a South Yorkshire family: the miner grandfather, whose memories of the pits are laid out in bracing vignettes; his children Alex and Brian; and Alex’s son, Simon, who posts explicit gay content on his OnlyFans account and performs drag

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