Madeleine Feeny

An authentic portrait of gay love in small-town Britain: The Whale Tattoo reviewed

Rusty trawlers, tidal rot and heavy Norfolk skies are the backdrop for this story of growing up an outsider

Bleak times: coastal Norfolk is the backdrop to Ransom’s debut novel. [Rick Bowden/Loop Images/Universal Images Group/Getty]

In Jon Ransom’s debut novel, water seeps into the crevices between waking and dreaming, flooding the narrator Joe’s consciousness. Set in the liminal landscape of Norfolk’s tidal wetlands, it’s an urgent, roiling tale of gay love, suppressed traumas and lives cut short. A working-class writer with no formal education, Norfolk-raised Ransom wrote the first draft on his phone on a bus.

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