Award-winning poet and professor of poetry at Man Met, Andrew McMillan’s much-anticipated debut novel Pity is upon us, and he’ll be on tour around the UK throughout February, with the Manchester launch hosted by Blackwell’s Bookshop at Central Library.
Described as “stunning” and “magnificent”, Pity – out with Canongate on 8 February – is set across three generations of a South Yorkshire mining family. Exploring community, masculinity and post-industrialisation in Northern England, the short novel is a lament for a lost way of a life as well as a celebration of resilience and the possibility for change.
CT fave Jon McGregor says: “We already knew that Andrew McMillan could turn a phrase. With his debut novel, he also shows us a rare gift for storytelling. Pity digs deep into the heart and history of South Yorkshire and brings out the black gold of love, longing and loss. A triumph.”
Lanny author Max Porter – seen opening Manchester Literature Festival 2023 – says: “Pity pays a great poet’s tough but tender attention to the unspoken layers and historic fissures which lie beneath the wounded town of the self. This beautiful book about the marks that are left on people and places in turn leaves a deep empathic mark on the reader.”
Black Country writer Liz Berry says: “Pity is as tough, glittering and multilayered as the coal upon which it rests. With lyrical prose and deep tenderness, Andrew McMillan beautifully explores the complex hauntings of love and grief across generations.”
Here’s a little more about the book: “The town was once a hub of industry. A place where men toiled underground in darkness, picking and shovelling in the dust and the sleck. It was dangerous and back-breaking work but it meant something. Once, the town provided, it was important, it had purpose. But what is it now? Brothers Alex and Brian have spent their whole life in the town where their father lived and his father, too. Still reeling from the collapse of his personal life, Alex, is now in his middle age, and must reckon with a part of his identity he has long tried to mask. Simon is the only child of Alex and had practically no memory of the mines. Now in his twenties and working in a call centre, he derives passion from his side hustle in sex work and his weekly drag gigs.”
Andrew McMillan was born in Barnsley in 1988. His debut collection of poetry, physical, was “the sort of once-in-a-generation debut that causes everyone to sit up and take notice”, according to Sarah Crown. physical was the only poetry book to ever win the Guardian First Book Award; it was also awarded a Somerset Maugham award, an Eric Gregory Award, the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and in 2019 was voted as one of the Top 25 Poetry Books of the Past 25 Years by the Booksellers Association. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize. A third collection, pandemonium, was published in 2021 and in 2022 he co-edited the acclaimed anthology 100 Queer Poems, which was shortlisted in the British Book Awards. He is professor of contemporary writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Andrew will be in conversation with Joe Stretch, his colleague at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School, and who himself can be seen reading a specially commissioned story for the Stockport Stories project: at Rare Mags on 11 April and at Mura Ma Gallery on 20 April.