Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Disaffection - James Kelman

Patrick Doyle is bored in life. Frustrated with his work as a teacher in the local school, he wanted to leave it all and go for a trip to the south. An alcoholic, to the level of self destruction, he does not have much of life outside the school and the pub. Staying alone, with rare visits to his parents ( forced to watch the telly with nothing to talk to them) and his elder brother ( married with two kids whom he adore) to a an occasional coffee , he has no social circle. Already twenty nine, un-married, with no girl friend , he is an outsider to the society. However, he relishes a silent on way infatuation to his colleague Allison, who is married and supposedly leading an unhappy family life.

Patrick feels himself as a victim of the hypocrisy of the society. He goes through the routine of predictable life. The working class pubs, take-home dinners, lonely weekends. The only solace is the two pipes he finds in front of the pub, which he brings home and plays to drown his sorrow and frustration. Finding himself entrapped in this society, he goes through the thoughts of suicide and of going for a long journey down south ( in the pretext of meeting his old friend). The imminent transfer of his job to a suburban school adds to the feeling of rejection and victimisation within him.

Very depressing novel, the clever use of language and the often funny Scottish dialect is one reprieve from the negative mood through out ( highest count of F words per page). This book was short listed for the Booker price ( he won Booker in 2004 for a later novel). Very powerful, detached narrative, rarely straying from the theme, portraying the inner turmoil of a troubled youth.


A Disaffection (1989)

James Kelman


337 Pages

Read More : Glasgow Guardian , Interview with James Kelman at Barcelona Review

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