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Backstop Land Reviews

Backstop Land by Glenn Patterson

Backstop Land

Glenn Patterson

3.40 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Head of Zeus
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 31 Oct 2019
ISBN: 9781838932022

A witty and impassioned book on Ulster, which has been thrust into the centre of British and European politics and which is likely to become Britain's frontier with the wider world.

3 stars out of 5
Henry McDonald
11 Jan 2020

"A Belfast writer provides an undogmatic, wry and wise portrait of Northern Ireland as Britain prepares to leave the EU"

Patterson is a wry observer of society with a built-in bullshit detector, and in this survey of Northern Ireland three years on from the EU referendum vote, calls out hypocrisy on all sides. He prefers a show-and-not-tell approach, even while the reader is crying out for a sentence here and there that burns with righteous indignation. The voice behind this journey through “Backstop Land” is always humane and undogmatic. “I am trying to write this book in real time – or as real as these unreal and rumour-filled times get,” he asserts, and by doing so, references a possible problem at the heart of this book.


3 stars out of 5
16 Nov 2019

"Stark and urgent diagnosis of the North's present condition"

Patterson writes “in real time” during the summer of 2019, enacting the efforts of all of us to follow events as they hurtled toward an eventually postponed deadline. He incorporates the views of people he talks to alongside (and often in contrast with) the opinions of experts and commentators. His appearance as a character in his own text, affected by the material he is engaged in gathering, reflects its central motif: absurdity. The ‘backstop’ prepares the ground. Though denoting an assurance, this term was always close to farce. (Each chapter contains the word or the letters ‘up’.) Developments post-publication have only underlined that aspect. On October 21st, the backstop simultaneously disappeared and became an immediate prospect. All the while, Brexit itself remains phantasmal, since it has not so far happened.

4 stars out of 5
Melanie Reid
25 Oct 2019

"this is brave stuff, because he’s scathing about bad men on both sides, and wise"

Patterson, reliably even-handed, mocks the republican side just as effectively for their stupidities and rank hypocrisies... Patterson writes passionately of the inner darkness ... In vivid, biting passages, Patterson describes the paramilitary culture of punishing young people... Backstop Land has flaws: occasionally the writing is gnomic or self-indulgent, and sentences forget to stop. But this is brave stuff, because he’s scathing about bad men on both sides, and wise. Read it ... and you’ll understand who these people are. And why peace in Ireland matters.