REVIEW by Anna Scott

NWR Issue 104

The Dig

by Cynan Jones

Evoking the eternal cycle of life with its intricate workings of love, pain, birth, suffering and loss, The Dig is a brief, yet powerful novel which interweaves the lives of two men. Daniel is a farmer struggling to carry on in the face of a terrible bereavement, while the other, whose modus operandi is cruelty, is known simply as ‘the big man’ and spends his spare time badger baiting. Both, though seemingly entirely dissimilar, are, in their own way, irretrievably trapped by circumstance.

Jones writes with unsparing harshness. This is a world with no room for weakness in which survival is something to be fought for. Vulnerability is exploited, and the torturous fate of the badgers dug out of their setts to perform for man’s sport becomes a metaphor for the bloody struggle that is existence. There’s a whiff of the gladiatorial in all this, a linking of past and present via the medium of pain and suffering. Passing down through the years, there’s a continuum to human violence and savagery...

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