Pity by Andrew McMillan review men and memories in a Yorkshire pit town
Briefly

Pity is Andrew McMillan's debut novel, following his successful poetry collections physical, playtime, and pandemonium. Set 40 years after the miners' strike in the UK, the novel focuses on three generations of men from the same family whose lives have been shaped by the local pit near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. It delves into themes of male identity, sexuality, and the effects of history and politics on working-class communities. The narrative is composed of multiple viewpoints, including the perspectives of middle-aged brothers, a younger son and his boyfriend, anonymous bystanders, and academic fieldnotes.
Pity, appearing 40 years after the 1984-85 miners' strike, which convulsed parts of the UK and divided working-class communities, draws on three generations of men from the same family whose lives have been dominated by the local pit, closed since the end of the strike, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, McMillan's home town.
The novel intertwines themes of masculinity, sexuality, and the impact of history and politics on working-class towns in South Yorkshire. It does not explicitly focus on the miners' strike itself, but the strike's legacy permeates the story. The narrative includes diverse perspectives, allowing for a rich exploration of different experiences and viewpoints. McMillan's lyrical writing style shines through, with recurring italicized elements adding a poetic touch to the novel. Pity is a powerful examination of personal and collective struggles within a specific time and place.
Pity is a book about male identity and sexuality whether anxiously concealed or proudly open and about the ravages of history and politics, most significantly on the working-class towns and cities of South Yorkshire such as Barnsley and Sheffield.
Read at www.theguardian.com
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