The English novelist Richard Hayden sent this via email on 27/02/2014:
“At long last I got round to buying and reading SNUG.
First thing, I really loved it, hugely enjoyable (in a very discomforting way), lovingly crafted, technically intriguing and above all, well done, a book with balls of fucking steel! (put that that on the back cover or even the front – I dare you)
You hit the mood, the feel of the 70s really accurately – I remember IofW from family holidays. The 12-year-old’s perspective was toe-curlingly reminiscent of that time. The mixture of innocence (board games, politeness, diffidence) and the blood-lust bred into the bone by comic books and war movies (633 Squadron, The Dambusters – those soundtracks transfixed me long before the Beatles).
The racist Dad, wow. The way events transform a casual, racist boor into a fully-fledged graduate of the Buenos Aires Navy School was shocking (so shocking I didn’t want to credit it as a reader) – you did it unflinchingly. The same with your use of “forbidden” words – no wonder no UK publisher wopuld touch it, too explosive for them. Whata shame, it could and should be igniting debate – being ignored by mainstream publishers is an honour in your case!
As a novel, the pacing is great, the vicious twists (horribly inevitable though they are), the absence of even a hint of redemption – exactly what it needed. There’s no better sign than when a reader starts to space out the last 50 pages or so to prolong the reading experience.
And that final communique fromn the visitors, that really threw a new perspective on things for me, broadened the whole debate out and made me think how the “african problem” is portrayed in the media.
Bloody good job. A really, truly, good novel.
Next time you’re in the UK or when I’m back in Catalunya in a few weeks, it’d be good to meet up and chew it over a bit more.