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Password Forgot your password? Books for Independent Thinkers. New Stories from the Mabinogion is an exciting series of contemporary novels by leading authors, reworking ancient Celtic myth cycles. October is the turn of Niall Griffiths and Gwyneth Lewis. In his typical trademark style, Griffiths reworks this story of love and loyalty as the dream of a seedy South Walian nightclub owner, Max, intent in revenge on a rival North Walian gang.

Yet he states that however far he travels from Wales, 'the Mabinogion follows me there like luggage'. Griffiths points out that his ancient source material contains highly developed elements of satire: "Not until Monty Python and the Holy Grail would Arthurian myth and its notions of chivalry face such bombardment"; and his stories acquire a unique form of gritty Celtic realism, in which a young soldier bound for Iraq takes a potent tranquiliser and experiences a lurid dream in which a sinister, grinning overlord plays a barbaric game of chess with the infidel.

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Through their voices, the novel charts this chapter in their lives, presenting, with humour and rage and a deep underlying sadness, a picture of the diversity and waste that is life in Britain today. A work of power, passion and enormous originality, Grits describes - in language both mythic and demotic - ways of living that appear squalid but which aspire to the spiritual. Robbed of his ancestral home - a near-derelict hovel in the mountains of west Wales - Ianto pledges revenge not only on the English yuppies who have turned his grandmother's cottage into a weekenders' barbecue party but on all those who have violated him and the land that is his.

This latest act of colonial oppression and desecration triggers his lurid and strange imagination into unspeakable savagery - embodying our most primal fears of physical threat, a world beyond our control. Victor meets Kelly, a perfectly nice young lady with the expected millenial binge-over, a crappy job and no one to share her life with, and an instant, passionate inferno ignites.

This isn't a comfortable love story, it isn't Barbara Cartland, but it is very beautiful and powerful and a joy to read.


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It has taken the loss of a limb and a death threat from the Mob to make one Liverpudlian dry out and move to a small seaside town in Wales. His past life is a recurring nightmare—filth, desperation, and blackouts - and more trouble is only a hundred miles away. Darren and Alastair leave Liverpool, heading south in a rickety old car, sent to wreak violent revenge, but they have only a rough idea of their quarry: a one-armed man.

Interspersed between the scabrous banter and a pitch-perfect street dialect, Niall Griffiths offers stunning descriptions of the Welsh landscape and a dark, knowing humor. Despite the ever present drugs, violence, and anger, he reveals a fragile humanity.

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He is an epic and, at moments, visionary writer. He has a deep understanding of Great Britain, particularly of England, Wales, and how they interconnect, socially and historically.

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After their botched and brutal mission to punish a one-armed man in a small Welsh village, Darren and Alastair head back to Liverpool to report to their mob boss. On the way home, Darren robs a rural postal office in Wales that serves as a bank and needlessly cracks the skull of a little old postal lady. Darren has finally gone too far. But we also hear the voices of their ancestors going back generations of unthinkable grief and poverty. In the foreground is a caper story; in the background, a poetically expressed, apocalyptic history of Liverpool.


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On leaving school a sixteen-year-old boy goes to live with his uncle on a remote Welsh hill-farm. His aunt has recently committed suicide after losing her livestock in the foot-and-mouth epidemic and his uncle has turned, once again, to the bottle.

Series: New Stories from the Mabinogion

The boy is a spiritual savant: an unwitting repository of folk memory from the margins, barely educated but possessed of extraordinary insights; barely literate but able to speak a language of his own - a poetry laden with Pagan and Christian myth. He is unaware that he is gifted and unaware of what he knows. But during one of his ecstatic trances, the boy learns that he has an appointed role in the world, which he must discover for himself.

During an episode of brutal and climactic violence, he does exactly that. Told through the boy's internal monologue of beauty and damage, Runt is a powerful, disturbing and moving novel that reinvigorates the language of fiction and illuminates domestic tragedy with a penetrating epic light. Iraq-bound young squaddie Ronnie takes something dodgy and falls asleep for three nights in a filthy hovel where he has the strangest of dreams.

He watches the tattoed tribes of modern Britain assemble to speak with a grinning man playing war games.

The Dreams of Max and Ronnie

Arthurian legend merges with its twenty-first century counterpart in a biting commentary on leadership, individualism and the divisions in British society. Meanwhile Cardiff gangsta Max is fed up with life in his favourite nightclub, Rome, and chases a vision of the perfect woman in far flung parts of his country. Yet he states that however far he travels from Wales, 'the Mabinogion follows me there like luggage'.