Best fiction of 2017: From bestselling masters to exciting new voices, James Marriott selected Darke as one the novels that stood out in 2017.
by Rick Gekoski
James Darke is a retired English teacher. He hates everything apart from Dickens (the sea is “so bloody insistent: whoosh, whoosh, drown”; Virginia Woolf is “Mrs Shalloway”) and shuts himself off from the world. All his letters are returned to sender and his telephone is disconnected. The misanthropic comedy is done very well. Yet the farther we travel into Darke’s life, the more we realise that he has tragic depths too. Darke is Rick Gekoski’s first novel — published at the age of 70. It goes to show it’s never too late to start.
Canongate, 299pp; £16.99