“Meagre in build. Mouthy in nature. One good owner and pottery trained: Josiah ‘Totty’ Minton is bang out of sick notes and harbouring the dream of a three-bed semi with bay windows, fully-fitted carpets and enough of a garden to stretch his legs.”
It’s the 2010 general election. Labour has lost its footing and the country is in disarray. But somewhere in the arse pocket of Stoke on Trent, a mother and son are waging their campaign against the state, the system, and predatory landlord Malcolm Gandy, to remain in their council-owned home.
Lisa Blower’s debut is a novel for our times that will have you laughing out loud then raging at the page.
Contemporary Small Press – Although Blower does not shy away from the grim realities of parts of post-industrial Britain, the novel’s strength lies in its frenetic pacing and pitch-black humour which makes Sitting Ducks anything but a struggle. The ‘plot’ of the novel is at times undoubtedly bleak, yet the rhythm and force of Blower’s linguistically dexterous prose gives Sitting Ducks an urgency its subject matter deserves. Go here for the full review
New Welsh Review – This novel is plainly one with serious political intent. Partisan without being preachy, Sitting Ducks both entertains and engages. A genuine pleasure to read. Go here for the full review
Herald Scotland – This is an Angry Young Woman to watch. Go here for the full review
The Writes of Woman – Sitting Ducks is an impassioned response to the damage the Conservative Party has wreaked on UK industry and the many families whose livelihood depended upon it. It reminded me of the excellent 1996 drama Our Friends in the North and is a worthy addition to the canon of working class literature. Go here for the full review
Structo magazine – Lisa Blower has created strong characters and given a timely voice to the legions of people struggling to regain a sense of purpose, pride and community. Humour is always there. There is tenderness and beauty too.
Characters are summed up with economy and skill. British politicians have been scratching their heads in recent months and if they really don’t understand the frustration that exists out there, they should read this book.” Go here for the full review
Stuart Maconie – author (‘The English Bill Bryson’), journalist, Radio 6 presenter:
A livid and unapologetic evocation of a world most novels and novelists never get near.
Niall Griffiths -author (Grits, Sheepshagger, Stump, other novels and short stories) :
Technically accomplished, linguistically inventive, aesthetically beautiful and politically vital. Here is talent, new and needed; here is another weapon in the war against self-interest and self-regard. This is a voice which I and many others have been waiting for.
Luke Wright – poet, theatremaker, broadcaster:
Guttural, visceral and noticing the things usual lit does not, I find myself reading her lines out loud, they trip off the tongue like a John Cooper Clarke verse.
Simon Thirsk – Chairman of Bloodaxe Books. Author of Not Quite White:
Lisa Blower’s Sitting Ducks lifts the lid on the social curse of post industrial communities in twenty-first century Britain. Her writing cries out with the pain of an underclass whose characters’ lives are condemned by capitalism. This debut novel can be read as an allegory for the widening chasm between Britain’s haves and have-nots and the human cost of the electorate’s 2010 betrayal of socialist ideals.
Sitting Ducks marks Blower’s transition from prize-winning short story writer to novelist-to-watch. Fair Acre Press are to be congratulated on finding and publishing her.
Anna Dreda – owner of the award-winning Wenlock Books
This is a brave, angry novel fizzing with energy. Lisa writes with a devastating eye on the fragility and pathos of modern urban life while investing her characters with dignity in the bleakest of circumstances. Her rage is justified, her humour shocks and the language is vibrant and on the nail. A modern day Steinbeck.
Catherine Burgass – Reader of English at Staffordshire University:
I invite you to meet the Mintons – the once-proud backbone of industrial England – bowed, but not quite broken. Set in Stoke – the Potteries – once a hive of industry, now a site of social and economic deprivation, this is a story both painful and heart-warming. Lisa Blower pulls no punches in her portrait of three generations battling a system which is itself creaking under the strain. She leavens political critique and personal tragedy with humour, empathy and a certain postmodern artfulness, breathing new life into the tradition of working-class writing.
About Lisa Blower
An award-winning short story writer and novelist, with a PhD in Creative & Critical Writing, & five years teaching University level Creative Writing.
Winner of The Guardian’s National short story competition 2009
Shortlisted for BBC National Short Story Award 2013
Highly commended Bridport Prize 2015
Her work has appeared on Radio 4, and in The Guardian, Comma Press, The New Welsh Review, The Luminary, Short Story Sunday.
She lives with her husband and daughter in Shrewsbury.