The countryside is rarely excavated with the panache of Cynan Jones in this dark, tense and vital short novel. The Dig is about a farmer, Daniel, who brings life to the lambs he labours over, and an unnamed man who brings death to the badgers he sells for townies to torture. These two lonely men live close to each other in west Wales, and from the foreboding beginnings of Jones’s already much-praised book, their lives are set on a collision course.
The Dig turns the reader into a helpless animal; transfixed, waiting for that blow to the skull. The first, unexpected emotional whump is actually the worst, but the story that unfolds from this shock is like a badger bait: you can root for the underdog but the game is rigged – there can only ever be one outcome.
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