The Murderer

The Murderer

Roy Heath
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A haunting psychological study of one man' s descent into violence, from one of the major Guyanese novelists of the twentieth century' For me life hasn' t got dreams, success and all that damn nonsense. Life is full of shadows- some of them soft and others conceal a hammer. ' Galton Flood is a lonely man. Ill at ease with his family, he leaves his home in Guyana' s capital, Georgetown, for the remote township of Linden, where he moves through a string of precarious jobs, from diamond mining to cutting logs. Meeting Gemma, his landlord' s daughter, appears to offer a first chance at meaningful connection. Yet Galton cannot escape his past, and begins a fatal descent into jealousy, paranoia and ultimately violence. What happens when we reach our lowest, and keep falling? With this haunting portrait of a mind unravelling, celebrated Guyanese writer Roy Heath evocatively recreates the country of his youth- its rivers, townships and tenement yards, and the tensions shimmering below the surface of a community.
A beautiful writer and an unforgettable book. -- Salman Rushdie A character who might have been created by Dostoevsky. -- Spectator A picture of a lost soul emerges that is mysteriously authentic and unique as a work of art. -- Observer A hauntingly powerful story. -- New York Times A notable study of paranoia, remarkable for its psychological insight and the restraint of its climax. * The Guardian * Guyanese authors are a radiant constellation, and Roy Heath stands rightfully among them. His unique style stands out from others of his time, and ours. -- Lemn Sissay The prose style is graceful, old-fashioned, almost Latinate. The dialogue on the other hand, is pure Guyanese vernacular, and the gap between the two, between the sense of distance in the prose and intimacy in the dialogue, makes the novel chilling and tense and deeply original. -- Colm Toibin and Carmen Callil, ' 200 Best Novels in English since 1950' , The Modern Library This enthralling novel plunges the reader into a painting by Van Gogh, a swirl of emotion unhinged from a verifiable reality. Or is it a portrait of a mind seen through a glass darkly? Heath takes his time to distinguish fantasy from delusion, play from mental decay. . . The Murderer is numbered among the Caribbean' s leading psychological novels, a nuanced portrait of the disintegrating individual psyche. -- Fred D' Aguiar
Roy Heath (1926-2008) grew up in Guyana, and moved to Britain in his twenties. He trained as a lawyer and was called to the bar in both Britain and Guyana, but worked instead as a writer and a secondary school teacher in London. The Murderer, his second novel, won the Guardian Fiction Prize when it was published in 1978. His subsequent works include the Armstrong trilogy - made up of From the Heat of the Day, One Generation and Genetha - and The Shadow Bride, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Though Heath spent most of his life in Britain, all of his fiction was set in Guyana.