‘As the Cannons gather in the Welsh marshes for Christmas, young Theo is initiated into the politics of family. Pears is an author whose impressive body of work should be much more widely appreciated.’
Fiction Uncovered Judges 2011
Leonard and Rosemary Cannon summon their middle-aged offspring, along with partners and children, to the family home in the Welsh Marches for the Christmas holiday. As the gathered family settle in to their first Christmas together for some years, the grown siblings – Rodney, Johnny and Gwen – are surprised when they are invited to each put stickers on the furniture and items they wish to inherit from their parents.
Disputed Land is narrated by Leonard and Rosemary’s thirteen-year-old grandson, Theo, who observes how from these innocent beginnings age-old fissures open up in the relationships of those around him. Looking back at this Christmas gathering from his own middle-age – a narrator at once nostalgic and naïve – Theo Cannon remembers his imperious grandmother Rosemary, alpha-male uncle Johnny, abominable twin cousins Xan and Baz; he recalls his love for his grandfather Leonard and the burgeoning feelings for his cousin Holly. And he asks himself the question: if a single family cannot solve the problem of what it bequeaths to future generations, then what chance does a whole society have of leaving the world intact?
About Tim Pears:
Born in 1956, Tim Pears grew up in Devon, left school at sixteen and had countless menial jobs before studying at the National Film and Television School. He is the author of six previous novels, including In the Place of Fallen Leaves, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award, In a Land of Plenty, which was made into a ten part drama series for the BBC, and, most recently, Landed. He has been Writer in Residence at Cheltenham Festival of Literature, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, and has taught creative writing at Ruskin College and elsewhere. He lives in Oxford with his wife and children.
Hear Tim Pears read from Disputed Land here.
Listen to judge Damian Barr talking about Tim Pears’ Disputed Land here.