This Book is a part of Man Booker 2016 Longlist Read Series
Wyl Menmuir is regarded by many as a ‘surprise’ inclusion into the Man Booker Longlist 2016. This is the second time that independent publisher, Salt Publishing, made it to the Man Booker Longlist after their 2012 debut by Alison Moore “The Lighthouse”.
Book #: 33
Title: “The Many” by Wyl Menmuir
The underlying revelation (which is unfair to disclose here) of the story has multiple shades to it- the duality is its feature – you might feel “Naah! What the hell” or “What a brilliant underlying theme it is” depending on the point of your tiring day you finish reading the book. Hence, the recommendation would be to reread the final chapters at least one more time and you would be amazed by the alternate view you could envision.
This is essentially the theme of this 160 pages gothic novel (or novella) – there is a dark and disturbing undercurrent narration that tracks itself along with a much subtle and lighter drama on the surface. Just like the references in this book – there are chemicals killing the fishes making it a disaster to the fishers (and the environment) but on the surface, it is a beautiful view occasionally disturbed by heavy tides.
The story is narrated through the eyes of two people – Ethan and Timothy Buchannan with Perran and his house being the driving character. Set in the backdrop of coast where fishing is the prime activity, the beloved son of the land Perran dies of an accidental drowning which disturbed the lives of the village.
Perran who understands the sea as if he was born to it. Perran who guides the boats in and out, who comes and goes as he pleases.
Timothy buys the place left by Perran and it shakes up the village even further. The stay of Timothy is largely horrifying for an outsider. The village tracks every move of him and stories evolve over time about his interest in buying this deserted house. They are surprised how similar both Timothy and Perran looked in terms of physique or features.
Timothy has come to resurrect Perran. He has come to destroy Perran’s house, to erase his memory.
There are two excellent features of this novel which would impress you the most:
Firstly, despite the setting of location feels like completely disconnected to the world, with only connection with the world being the sea, there is the extreme relevance of conflicts that these villagers encounter. Never were the sports discussed, nor was the politics, they are concerned only about the sea and the fishes. It is all that mattered to them.
Secondly, the dreams. My favorite bit of the novel is the dreams that Timothy experience and so do Ethan. At times, the difference is extremely minimal as if you believe they are dreams of the same person.
But, Wyl leaves you with way too many questions to answer. The italicized flashbacks episodes give away a few answers but leave a lot of them for your interpretation. This surprises me as there is a limited scope in fiction to leave a huge chunk of the unaddressed story since everyone is looking for a closure.
Overall, Wyl Menmuir’s “The Many” definitely surprises you with its content at the same time leaves you with a lot to ponder upon -both in terms of story and the contaminants that are destroying the marine biology.
Man Booker 2016 Longlist Read Series:
“The North Water” by Ian McGuire
“His Bloody Project” by Graeme Macrae Burnet
“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty
“All That Man Is” by David Szalay