Our Fathers by Andrew O’Hagan

Andrew O’Hagan (http://literature.britishcouncil.org/andrew-ohagan and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_O’Hagan) has been a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and Granta magazine. Our Fathers (1999), his first novel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award.

In the novel we meet Hugh Provan who has been a Modernist hero. A dreamer, a Socialist, a man of the people, he led Scotland’s tower block programme after the war. Now he lies on a bed on the eighteenth floor. The times have changed. His flats are coming down. The idealism he learned from his mother is gone. And even as his breath goes out he clings to the old ways. His wife sings her Scots ballads to soothe him, yet his final months are plagued by memory and loss, by a bitter sense of his family and his country, who could not live up to the houses he built for them.

Meanwhile the corruption hearings bring their hammer down on the past. Hugh’s grandson, Jamie, comes home to watch over his dying mentor. The old man’s final months bring Jamie to see what is best and worst in the past that haunts them all, and he sees the fears of his own life unravel in the land that bred him. He tells the story of his own family – a tale of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of Catholic faith and the end of the old Left. It is a tale of dark hearts and modern houses, of three men in search of Utopia. O’Hagan has written a story which is a poignant and powerful reclamation of the past and a clear sighted gaze at our relationship with history, personal and public.

288 pages in Faber & Faber paperback edition

ISBN 978-0571201068

Andrew O’Hagan

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