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Marabou Stork Nightmares


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'Extremely funny... As clever as Alasdair Gray, as elegant as Jeff Torrington, as passionate as James Kelman, Welsh has got it all' Tibor Fischer

About the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of ten previous novels and four books of shorter fiction. He currently lives in Chicago.


Roy Strang, is dreaming his way through a coma. The novel alternates between a hunt set in Africa for the Marabou Stork (a gruesome, atavistic creature) that he weaves in his mind, and his recollections of his upbringing and youth. His history is marked with violence and rape‘experienced both as victim and perpetrator. The storylines are at war, careering off each other in a race to the finish. Though his life is a litany of degradation, the tale of the stork hunt is an attempt to recast himself as a hero, and its completion promises transformation. Roy does not wish to be revived until the tale is told. Welsh (The Acid House, Norton, 1995) writes in the rough gutter-slang of Edinburgh, Scotland, and his phonetic transliterations take some deciphering but this work is well worth the effort. The unsparing, brutal prose is not for the squeamish, but for those with the stomach, this exceedingly original first novel is highly recommended. For all libraries.‘Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"

A superbly talented writer...anarchic and entirely invigorating * Scotsman *
A wonderful success: a funny, cleverly composed, genuinely exciting and assured leap of a novel * New Statesman *
Extremely funny... As clever as Alasdair Gray, as elegant as Jeff Torrington, as passionate as James Kelman, Welsh has got it all -- Tibor Fischer
Mind-bendingly good * GQ *
Our most vital of contemporary authors * i-D *

When the narrator's polished account of a surreal African safari suddenly gives way to an Edinburgh soccer thug's obscenity-laced vernacular, it's clear that Welsh's unrelenting exploration of the Scottish underclass has undergone an unexpected transmutation. The LSD and heroin of the author's previous works (a story collection, The Acid House; a novel, Trainspotting) have changed into the hospital-bed fantasies and hallucinations of the comatose Roy Strang, but the flashbacked details of his damaged childhood and hooligan's career are as raw and despairing as any Welsh has depicted before. To escape from a bleak public-housing existence, Roy's ``genetic disaster'' of a dysfunctional family emigrates from the U.K. to South Africa (``Sooth Efrikay'' in the novel's endemic Scotch), where young Roy encounters a right-wing, child-molesting uncle as well as the Marabou Stork, a vicious predator-scavenger. Returning home, Roy graduates from abused to abuser. Welsh expertly handles these realistically brutal episodes, from Roy's knifing of a schoolmate just to establish himself, through adult pub-wrecking. Then there's the harrowing secret Roy is trying to repress by imagining, amid ludicrously distracting family visits, a fantasy quest to eradicate the flamingo-killing Stork-``the personification of all this badness... the badness in me.'' With as good an ear for Scotch as James Kelman and as twisted an imagination as Will Self, Welsh makes his novelist's debut stateside with a darkly hilarious, deeply disturbing but ultimately compassionate book. First serial to Grand Street. (Jan.)

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