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The Crack Magazine

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Pity by Andrew McMillan

The only named woman in Andrew McMillan’s fine debut novel is Margaret Thatcher, and she looms large over the narrative due to her role in the 1984/85 miners’ strike. The setting is South Yorkshire and the tale flits back and forth across three generations of a Barnsley family. The everyday monotony and hardship of working down a pit is well drawn, but I felt more engaged with Simon’s tale, set in the present day. Simon earns his crust by working in a call centre, but he also performs weekly drag shows and has a side hustle selling his homemade porn videos via the OnlyFans site. ‘Pity’ isn’t a long novel – I read it in two chunks – but it is weighty with ideas that take in emasculation, community, sexuality and class. There’s also a central motif of things being buried, quite literally in the case of men being lost under tonnes of earth, but also buried emotions and desires. RM