The Many by Wyl Menmuir – An Unsettling and Atmospheric Debut
11th September, 2016
An abandoned house in a secluded fishing village has a new owner. What are the stories surrounding the previous owner? And why are the villagers sceptical of the new comer?
The 2016 Man Booker longlist was a surprising one. When The Many by Wyl Menmuir published by Salt publishing got longlisted, it took the literary world by surprise. And so I began the book with high expectations
In Brief :
A young man, Timothy, takes an abandoned cottage in a fishing village, hoping to fix it up before being joined by his girlfriend. The villagers view him as an intruder. So does Ethan, who blames himself for the death of the previous owner of the house, Perran. When Ethan and Timothy go on a boat together, do their previous grudges and regrets affect the kinship?
My thoughts :
After I read the novel, I was confused about my thoughts as well as clueless about the elements in the book that might have impressed the jury. I went through a few reviews of the book and noticed that readers fall into two main categories with this book – those who really enjoyed and those who didn’t. No in-betweeners.
- Writing :
The writing is sparse and it would be a good example of what you call atmospheric prose. The scene where the story takes place comes alive as you read on, the fishing village, the abandoned house and the suspicious villagers. I loved Meimur’s eye for minor details that truly enrich the story. The novel is told alternating between the present and flashbacks.
- Atmosphere :
There are strong hints of Gothic elements, in the inhospitable nature of the place and mystery surrounding the abandoned house. There are environmental disasters showcased in poisoned waters, mutated fish and empty containers that mark a no-go zone offshore
- Pacing :
The pacing is slow. From the beginning of the novel we are presented with a mystery of who Perran, the previous owner of the house, is. The question was not answered even after 60% of the book was done. And may I say the book gives blurred answers to all questions it raises?
- Plot :
This is not one of the novels that is plot driven. Lovers of Anita Desai might enjoy the book. (I am a fan of Anita Desai, but sadly this book did not work for me).
Final Verdict :
This is a really short book, almost a novella, with only 160 pages in a physical copy. However, nothing much happens in the book and leaves the reader with pretty much the same questions they began with in the first few pages. I think if you are curious about the book you must give it a try. For only you can decide which category of readers you will fall into.
Title : The Many
Author : Wyl Menmuir
Publisher : Salt Publishing
Published : 2016
Language : English
Pages : 160
Rating : 2.5/5
Have you read The Many? What are your thoughts on the debut? Which of the Man Booker longlisted books of this year do you think will make it to the shotlist?