Narrated by each character in turn, it is relentlessly demotic as Griffiths submerges the reader in a prosaic world of benefit investigations, bare-knuckle boxing, and watching Jeremy Kyle with Diamond White cider. Yet rising above it is a vision that may or may not have been real, and suddenly the scene on a Welsh hill is half rave and half Lourdes. Griffiths’s novel is an unusual mix of political and mystical, lifted by the possibility — albeit short-lived and violently anticlimactic, in this case — of social transformation.
This important novel comes from a tradition: from the green fuse of Dylan Thomas and Caradoc Evans, the unstable religiosity of RS Thomas. The result, though, is something new, a profane, passionate response to nature and to the countryside, which is rarely encountered in contemporary British fiction any more. In its singular and unfashionable way, Broken Ghost is also a religious novel. A nonconformist sermon, it begs us all to let some sort of transforming spectre – holy or not – enter our lesser selves, or we will not be saved.