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The Valley at the Centre of the World Reviews

The Valley at the Centre of the World by Malachy Tallack

The Valley at the Centre of the World

Malachy Tallack

4.50 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publication date: 3 May 2018
ISBN: 9781786892300

Set against the rugged west coast of Shetland, in a community faced with extinction, The Valley at the Centre of the World is a novel about love and grief, family and inheritance, rapid change and an age-old way of life. The exquisite debut novel from one of Scotland's most exciting new writers

5 stars out of 5
5 Dec 2018

"a thoughtful, engaging and valuable addition to the literature of islands"

Tallack uses a Shetland dialect...  It works, adding an insider’s authenticity and richness to the slow-burning story that in places recalls the great chronicler of Orcadian life and character George Mackay Brown... Tallack’s descriptions of sheep farming and the unforgiving elements are particularly powerful... Tallack shows us the past and future colliding in the present, and illustrates the difficulty of maintaining a culture in a world that is shrinking. The Valley at the Centre of the World is a thoughtful, engaging and valuable addition to the literature of islands.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Ian Sansom
5 Dec 2018

"Tallack’s novel is a demonstration that no island – and no person – can ever truly be encompassed"

Tallack’s novel is a demonstration that no island – and no person – can ever truly be encompassed... The tone of the book is quiet and serious, the prose throughout restrained, the pace steady, certainly compared with the lyrical and romantic drift of his earlier books... The book is not without excitement and incident... But perhaps most impressive are the careful descriptions of Sandy learning to be a crofter, including one long set piece involving the disposal of a dead lamb.

5 stars out of 5
Allan Massie
8 May 2018

"a life-affirming book"

Malachy Tallack’s first novel is serious, low-key, humane, nothing showy about it. You might call it old-fashioned, but really, or more accurately, it isn’t so much old-fashioned as out of fashion. There’s no fantasy or whimsy about it. No reviewer will praise it as “ludic”. Its characters aren’t the author’s playthings; they are made and treated with sympathy and respect. Low-key as it is, this respect makes it a life-affirming book.