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Books Editorial

lovecraft18.jpg Lovecraft Country

Matt Ruff, Picador

Set during the Jim Crow era in the US (when segregation between black and white people was being enforced) Matt Ruff’s novel begins in 1954 with African American soldier Atticus Turner returning from the Korean war only to find that his father, Montrose, has been abducted by a mysterious cult. He sets off to find him along with his uncle George and childhood friend Letitia. We learn that both Montrose and George are big fans of science fiction novels, with Montrose also keen on the weird horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft (despite, as George points out, Lovecraft having white supremacist beliefs). The trio overcome racist cops and manage to negotiate redneck country before they eventually uncover a secret cabal named The Order of the Ancient Dawn. That’s when things really go haywire, with Ruff unleashing a swathe of supernatural elements across an episodic and pulpy narrative that brings in other members of Atticus’s family in an exciting romp that matches anything in the young soldier’s library. The author however, ensures that the real horrors of racism continually trump even the most malevolent of spirits featured here. It’s life, Jim Crow, but not as we know it. RM