Ed Garland

PUBLICATION DATE: November 4, 2019

Editions available from New Welsh Review


About the book

Genre-busting essay collection combining memoir, sound studies and bibliotherapy. Winner of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018 Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection.

In his twenties, Ed Garland came close to suicide but later discovered reading to help him cope with hearing loss and tinnitus. In this unique blend of memoir and literary criticism, right at the cutting edge of research drawing on both the literary and the medical worlds, the author reveals his own journey – through music then fiction – towards an understanding of sonic loss and, ultimately, towards healing. A genre-busting mix of literary criticism, sound studies and memoir, the essays explore what fictional sonic experiences can tell us about sound in everyday life. Written with humorous honesty about the ups and downs – mostly downs – of a young man’s mental health, this is a thoughtful and original exploration of recovey, and of literature’s ability to challenge preconceptions.

The English-language fiction classics of Wales explored include the work of Margiad Evans, Bernice Rubens, and Deborah Kay Davies. The international titles are by Annie Proulx and Samuel Beckett. Earwitness amplifies the rich connections between literature, auditory perception and mental wellbeing.

Ed Garland is studying for a PhD at Aberystwyth University, researching sonic exrience in contemporary fiction. He works as a copywriter. He was born in Manchester, and lived in Leicester and Bristol before settling in Aberystwyth. He was recently long listed in the Ivan Juritz Prize.


"In this wise and searching book, Ed Garland creates a literary sound map of Wales, an elegy to listening and sounds he can no longer hear. Fascinating and moving. it makes the (silent) reader perceive not just sound and the act of hearing in new ways, it promotes ‘deep listening’. Like all good art, it alters our connection to and perception of the world."

Kaite O’Reilly, Ted Hughes Award Winner

"Earwitness is a funny and occasionally poignant exploration of the sonic dimensions of literature. Ed Garland deftly weaves reflections on his own, self-inflicted, hearing loss and tinnitus with an analysis of important but neglected textual representations of sound. This book will change the way you listen to the written word." 

Professor Kirsti Bohata, Swansea University

"What an intriguing, funny, learned, thoughtful and moving essay Earwitness is. Part autobiography, part astute and incisive literary criticism, it stresses the vitality of literature to the development and sustenance of the soul; it allowed this writer to feel that he is doing something worthwhile, valuable, and essentially good. At its heart it is a poem of praise to both the redemptive power of words and the miraculous interconnectedness of human sense. A beauty." 


Niall Griffiths

"A cracking read... A significant intervention in [the] debate [of music, memory and memoir]… [Garland’s] new sonic world… opens multi-sensory doors as a reader… the ricochets of daily conflict turn into a phasing symphony redolent of Steve Reich… bears re-reading and instils new ways of doing so. I look forward to the next instalment."

Fraser Mann, Music Memoir Research Group, University of York