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Shifting between the past and present, evoking the landscape and myth of a forgotten corner of England, Iron Towns is a stunningly inventive tale of dreams of youth, football and industrial progress - and what happens when those dreams recede into the past.
Anthony Cartwright was born in Dudley in 1973. His first novel The Afterglow won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for several other literary prizes; his second novel Heartland was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was adapted for BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime; his third novel How I Killed Margaret Thatcher was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and was a Fiction Uncovered 2013 selection. His collaborative novel with Gianluca Favetto, Il giorno perduto (The Lost Day), was published in Italy in 2015. He worked as an English teacher in schools in London and the Midlands for over ten years and is currently a First Story writer-in-residence at two schools. He lives in London with his wife and son.
A gritty, moving elegy for an abandoned, once-thriving section of
society, and the best football novel since The Damned United. --
John Harding * Daily Mail *
Accomplished...Cartwright's pacing is expert, restrained and skilful - he runs the game from deep, knocking raking passes into the right areas of the pitch. The story behind Goldie's imprisonment might, in less confident hands, have been withheld from the reader until the end of the novel. Instead we are allowed it at the midpoint: this is not a book that yearns for relentless tension, but the subtler pleasures of texture and flow..In places the prose becomes almost visionary, reminiscent of the contemporary re-animation of Blakean themes in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem...Cartwright achieves something bold in Iron Towns: a fictional enactment of communal identity and shared culture. -- Mark Blacklock * Guardian *
An elegiac tale that mixes myth and melodrama to dazzling effect. -- Anthony Cummins * Metro *
Cartwright has written that rarest of books: a first-class sports novel, and you don't have to be a fan: while he endows football with a mythic status, the afflicted characters and post-industrial backdrop of his tense narrative are only too real * Mail on Sunday *
Wonderfully vivid, gritty and compassionate * Tablet *
Iron Towns is one of those rare things - a book that lives up to its ambitions, and those ambitions are big. It's a dense but tender portrait of a world that few bother to notice, much less write books about. I loved the layering of the mythic and the prosaic, the intimate and the broad. An impressive and distinctive novel -- Catherine O'Flynn
A writer with a wonderful ear ... and an unblinking sense of Britain as it is today. Anthony Cartwright's patient, attentive storytelling shines a glowing light on areas of our common experience that the English novel usually consigns to darkness -- Jonathan Coe
Praise for Heartland: This is what fiction should be and what readers want it to be: passionately engaged. The ambition and achievement shine forth from every sentence -- David Peace
A talented and thoughtful writer -- Carol Birch
An impressive novel, glimpsed through the prism of a pair of football matches -- DJ Taylor