Pig – Andrew Cowan

I took A to the park today which has a small city petting farm.

There are two pigs among the animals in the farm and watching them lounging in the sun, soaking up the rays reminded me of a book I read way back in 1995, after it was given to me by my boss.

Tim, my then boss, went to university with the author Andrew Cowan and took a writing course at UEA together – the same one that the likes of Ian McEwan and Kazuo Isihiguro took.

Pig was Cowan’s first novel – and Tim is mentioned in the acknowledgements – and was feted, winning the Betty Trask Award and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Prize.

So what’s it like? Well, it’s basically a coming-of-age novel about Danny, a 15-year-old who decides to take care of his family’s elderly pig after his grandma dies and grandad is taken to a home, much to the amusement of his family.

Danny has a girlfriend, Surinder, and together they have to cope with racism from the locals and discovering love and sex for the first time.

It’s been compared to Catcher In The Rye, albeit a British version, and is written so movingly and beautifully that it deserves a far wider audience.

Although set in a modern time, most of the characters attitudes and prejudices belong to a time hopefully long forgotten.

The novel has been reissued and I urge you to seek it out and enjoy a wonderful first novel.

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