Gary Raymond’s The Golden Orphans (Parthian, £8.99) starts off in classic Brit abroad mode as a down-on-his-luck artist travels to Cyprus to attend the funeral of his mentor and fellow painter, Frances Bentham. The unnamed narrator takes on his teacher’s old job, working for a Russian gangster; the artist’s task is to paint the gangster’s dreams, or rather one recurring dream: an empty playground swing at night. It’s a brilliant concept. Raymond expertly leads the reader into the island’s secret territories, not least the city of Famagusta, which was split in two when Cyprus was separated into the Turkish and Greek zones, and has been abandoned and haunted ever since.
The whole thing comes in at just over 150 pages, the bare sentences layered with meaning. It feels a little like John Fowles’s The Magus, but condensed into a few days and nights. The pull of the lost city and the children who are rumoured to live there is a thread the hero cannot help but follow, into a world that shifts and turns under the moonlight. Intense, unnerving and brilliant. There are gun battles and a murder, but the novel’s real concern is the struggle of an artist to express that most hidden of all landscapes: the inside of another person’s head.
This extract is taken from ‘Foreign bodies galore: the best new crime fiction’, a piece written by Jeff Noon for The Spectator. The article was published on 30th June 2018 and is available in full here.
Our next event takes place on the 11th February 2019 and will be an exploration of the literary thriller genre. Cardiff author Gary Raymond will be in residence to discuss his new book, The Golden Orphans, alongside speakers Dr. Fiona Peters and Dr. Hannah Hamad.
Tickets are available on Eventbrite.