Our Fathers

Our Fathers

by Andrew O'Hagan
     
 

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Hugh Bawn was a modern hero, a dreamer, a man of the people who revolutionized Scotland's residential development after World War II. Now, as he lies dying in one of his own buildings, his grandson Jamie comes home to watch over him. It is Jamie who tells the story of his family, of three generations of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of

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Overview

Hugh Bawn was a modern hero, a dreamer, a man of the people who revolutionized Scotland's residential development after World War II. Now, as he lies dying in one of his own buildings, his grandson Jamie comes home to watch over him. It is Jamie who tells the story of his family, of three generations of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of Catholic faith and the end of political idealism. It is a tale of darkness amidst the search for Utopia. A poignant and very powerful reclamation of the past, Our Fathers is also a clearsighted and beautifully crafted look at public and personal history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"By any standards, Our Fathers is a powerful novel. As a first novel, it is very remarkable indeed."-The Independent
"O'Hagan makes the heavy light, the ugly near to lovely through an unusual combination of language, poetic in its imagery on the one hand and ruthlessly sharp and contemporary in idiom on the other."-The Spectator
"I have scarcely read so silvery beautiful a style when it comes to the Scots landscape, nor one so tender about matters of life and death."-Financial Times
Will Self
A timely corrective to the idea that nothing profound can be said about now.
Observer
NY Times Book Review
A surprising, thought-provoking discourse on the vulnerability of human life at the end of the 20th century.
Independent
The most auspicious debut by a British writer for some time.
Eve Claxton
Be warned...it's impossible to keep Our Fathers shut for very long.
Time Out New York
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Scottish writer O'Hagan's first book, The Missing, was a well-received nonfictional compound of memoir and journalism on the subject of missing persons. Now, switching competently to fiction, he has produced a family melodrama and novel of social consciousness spanning four generations. Jamie Bawn's grandfather, Hugh, better known as "Mr. Housing" from his days as Labour's Public Works mastermind, is dying in a grim flat in one of the many Glasgow high-rises he erected in the name of progress. To Hugh's pride and dismay, Jamie has followed in his footsteps and, after briefly deserting Glasgow for Liverpool, is now assisting with the demolition of his grandfather's buildings, for the good of a new generation. As he nears death, Hugh is under investigation for cutting corners in the construction of his utopian towers, but Jamie knows that though the allegations are true, Hugh intended to pass his savings on to needy tenants. In a bedside vigil lasting many weeks, Jamie devotes himself to his grandfather, their sparring underlaid with prickly affection. Jamie also reminisces about his father, Robert, a crude and abusive drunkard who hated his son, and Hugh's mother, Effie, the family's first idealist, who led rent strikes in Glasgow's tenements during WWI. If Jamie and Hugh are too strong as individuals (and political animals) to reconcile completely, Jamie's watch over Hugh's last days gives him enough perspective to allow him to reestablish contact with his estranged father. O'Hagan's control over the Glaswegian idiom never slips as his characters tentatively get in touch with their feelings in most un-Scottish fashion. Skirting sentimentality and never indulging in it, Our Fathers deftly balances generational conflict with political struggles in a hardnosed, reform-minded Scotland. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
On the heels of his successful first book, the acclaimed nonfiction title The Missing, journalist O'Hagan tries his hand at fiction. At the center of this book is Hugh Bawn, an ardent Socialist who planned and built high-rise flats in postwar Scotland. Years later, as he lies dying, his grandson Jamie returns home from England to reclaim the past he has tried unsuccessfully to leave behind. Spun by Jamie, this poignant tale reveals the lives of Hugh, Jamie, and Robert, Jamie's alcoholic father. Hugh's high-rises are destroyed one by one to make room for newer housing, much like the dreams of these three Scottish men. Eventually, Jamie realizes that the "child you have been will never desert you" and that memories may not always offer solace or solutions to present conflicts. A thoughtful book; recommended for large fiction collections.--Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The first fiction from Glaswegian journalist O'Hagan (The Missing, 1996) a muted, melancholy, and gently touching tale of a son who returns home for the death of his grandfather and finds both the private, and the public, dimensions of a changing Scotland.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156012027
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/25/2001
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

ANDREW O'HAGAN was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His previous novels have been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award.

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