Creating a malevolent teenager trapped on the Moors
This article is from 2008.
Ross Raisin burst onto the literary scene flanked by quotes from JM Coetzee and Colm Toibin. Dubbed ‘one of the most eagerly awaited literary debuts of 2008’, God’s Own Country didn’t disappoint. Set on the Yorkshire Moors, it is about Sam Marsdyke, a complex teenage malevolent trapped in a lonely, silent world. Banished from school and polite society for attempted rape, he falls for a teenage neighbour and everything changes.
Raisin’s portrayal of Sam, with all his loathing and malice, is sympathetic and engaging and the novel’s potent individuality comes from Sam’s richly idiomatic language and fascinating inner world.
Raisin, a part-time waiter and graduate of the Goldsmith College creative writing course, insists that finding a voice didn’t come easy. But what a voice. Strange, vernacular, defensive, pathetic, Marsdyke is simultaneously repulsive and winning; in the mould of Holden Caulfield, his odd imaginings become his downfall.
Raisin has been long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize, awarded biennially to the best published writer in English under the age of 30 from anywhere in the world. ‘Until last month I’d never even been to a literary festival, let alone read at one,’ says Raisin, looking forward to his event with Daniel Clay and Mark Wernham. ‘To be able to go up and do one in Edinburgh is a real treat, not least because it means this will be one year I will be put up in a bed rather than have to sleep on somebody’s floor.’
Humble, down to earth and talented, Ross Raisin is one to watch.
15 Aug (with Daniel Clay & Mark Wernham), 7.30pm, £6 (£4).