Books by Andrew Cowan

CRUSTACEANS by Andrew Cowan
Released: March 1, 2001

"Accomplished but deadening. Better would be Prozac and some therapy."
One man's litany of loss, told in a letter to a son already perished. Read full book review >
COMMON GROUND by Andrew Cowan
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Using the sensitivity to the decay of English society acclaimed in his first novel (PIG, 1996), Cowan offers a companion view: This time, he offers the tale of a young couple facing parenthood in a crumbling house on a rough street in a city where urban blight holds particular menace for a grove of ancient trees on the Common. Ashley and Jay aren't married, but they've lived together long enough to buy a house and to feel at ease with the decision to go through with Jay's pregnancy. Ashley hates his teaching job anyway and is quite willing to share childrearing duties by shifting to half-time work. Jay cuts back at her job, too, but finds it harder to give up her part in the increasingly desperate protests of a group trying to stop a long-planned bypass road from going through the forest on the Common—especially since her activist sister has already become deeply involved. Being thrust into parenthood comes as a rude awakening for both Jay and Ashley, as Ashley chronicles in his frequent letters to a brother who's been trekking around the world in search of himself. Part of Ashley wishes he also were trekking, but, later, another part of him revels in the domestic bliss of watching his new daughter Maggie grow. Eventually, his decision to quit teaching altogether in order to let Jay go back to work full-time seems the right thing to do, and when he finally drops his opposition to her joining fully in the fight against the road (now escalated to an encampment in the trees and physical clashes), Ashley takes his own large step down a road offering answers to the nagging questions in his life. Not as poignant as PIG, but a more comprehensive appraisal of the fissures running deep and long through English life—from intimate family matters on through those of the larger community, and touching issues of personal identity as well as those of a nation. Read full book review >
PIG by Andrew Cowan
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

A solid, strong first effort from prize-winning Scottish-born writer Cowan, who peers closely into the struggles of a sensitive boy—oppressed by the bitterness and decay endemic to the harsh world of English estate housing in a once-thriving industrial town- -as he tries to hold on to those things most precious to him. Fifteen-year-old Danny, bright but already battered by a less- than-loving home life, suffers a new blow when his grandmother dies. Grandad, long crippled by the loss of a leg, is moved immediately into a nursing home, leaving behind the isolated bungalow where he and his wife spent much of their lives, the extensive garden plot she tended with such care, and a pig, the last of many raised and slaughtered through the years, that Gran had decided to keep as a pet. Out of school for the summer, Danny resolves to take up where Gran left off and all but moves into the bungalow, although he soon finds the gardening beyond his ability and inclination. Meanwhile, his close friendship with a classmate, Surinder, blooms into Danny's first love, with the bungalow providing a refuge from the estate's many racists—his own parents and deadbeat brother included—who would react violently to his taking up with an Indian girl. Only Grandad, whom Danny visits daily in the home, seems to accept Surinder as Danny's special friend, but his health is fading fast without his wife's ministrations. In fact, the idyll that Danny believes he's found in his new circumstances proves to be more illusion than substance: Surinder soon indicates that she has ambitions beyond being a pig farmer, the bungalow is sold, and the pig, in spite of Danny's care, is also dying. Adolescent dreams at odds with postindustrial reality are evoked poignantly and honestly here—in a small but excellent tale of contemporary English society. Read full book review >