Wait (The Followers) offers a thoughtful and wrenching portrait of a small Scottish town wracked by guilt over an incident of domestic violence. At 31, Tommy Baird returns to the Scottish island of Skellag after years of absence, following the murder-suicide of his mother, Katrina, and his two siblings by his father in 1994 when Tommy was a young boy; he survived by hiding in a wardrobe. Tommy stays with his uncle, Malcolm, despite Malcolm’s reservations due to Tommy’s violent tendencies as a pugnacious adolescent. Wait adroitly maps the craggy psychological terrain beneath Tommy and Malcolm’s loaded silences, using Malcolm’s difficulty in making conversation as a means to explore the shame of inaction as his brother abused Tommy’s family for years. Malcolm’s thoughts are mirrored by the reaction of Fiona, a town busybody who grapples with regrets for not helping when Katrina asked for aid to escape her husband. Wait builds tension through cyclical repetition of the characters’ ruminations as they try to undo the past while revealing more of their own part in what happened. Fans of Patrick McCabe and Jon McGregor will appreciate Wait’s melancholic snapshot. (Feb.)
Praise for Our Fathers
“A piercing, vivid, and humane story depicting the long aftermath of extreme domestic violence.” Kirkus Reviews
“This is a beautifully realised novel, touching on the fallibility of memory and the unknowability of families, and gripping in its intensity. Outstanding.” Daily Mail
“Thoughtful and wrenching.” Publishers WeeklyPraise for Rebecca Wait’s The Followers
“A restrained tour-de-force, profoundly unsettling, brilliantly executed, and deeply humane.” EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL, author of Station Eleven
“Smooth and magnetic . . . The translucent simplicity of Wait’s prose lends a crystalline quality to the scenes, whether humdrum, horrific or, ultimately, healing.” Kirkus Reviews
“This novel lingers with you, and for those who have suffered similar things, it echoes truth.” Matt Haig, The Guardian
"The tenderness and the transformative nature of the ending are truly moving."
"Rebecca Wait describes the world of The Followers with such vividness that I dreamt about her cold, misty moorland, and with such tenderness that the ending brought tears to my eyes."
Alison Moore, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Lighthouse
"The novel has a brooding tension that threatens no good to come, building to a page-turning finish."
John Harding, author of Florence & Giles
Twenty years after a blood bath consumed his family, the only survivor returns to the scene of the crime in an effort to clear the roadblock of the past from his psyche.
Litta, a small island off the coast of Scotland, is a "dark hunk of rock, braced against the wind and the endless rain," a persuasive setting for this grimly compelling tale. Here, John Baird, a contemptuous, angry man hidden beneath a veneer of controlled charm, surprised Litta's tiny community one day by massacring his family—wife Katrina, son Nicky, and daughter Beth, everyone except his less-favored son, Tommy—and then killing himself. John's brother, Malcolm, still lives on Litta, and it's on his doorstep that Tommy turns up unannounced two decades later, his education, jobs, and girlfriends having failed to pull him into a future beyond the trauma of his family's tragedy, his father's taint, and his own pained regrets. Wait (The Followers, 2017, etc.) delivers these events in a narrative that is limpid and frill-free, in keeping with the book's elemental setting. Delving into John's psychology, and Malcolm's, and their father's before them, she paints a picture of traditional, often unpredictable, disappointed men and their low-level, slowly corrosive abuse of their wives. This generational connection serves its explanatory purpose, but another of the story's challenging forces is Litta itself, beautiful but isolated and ceaselessly testing its inhabitants' characters. Memory, masculinity, and survivor's guilt are picked apart as the novel treads its path, dodging sensationalism and easy resolutions while evoking haunted, inarticulate people in a relentless landscape.
A piercing, vivid, and humane story depicting the long aftermath of extreme domestic violence.