A Natural (Hardback)
  • A Natural (Hardback)
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A Natural (Hardback)

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£14.99
Hardback 352 Pages / Published: 02/03/2017
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Tom has always known exactly the person he is going to be. A successful footballer. A man others look up to. Now, though, the bright future he imagined for himself is threatened. The Premier League academy of his boyhood has let him go. At nineteen, Tom finds himself playing for a tiny club in a town he has never heard of. But as he navigates his isolation and his desperate need for recognition, a sudden and thrilling encounter offers him the promise of an escape, and Tom is forced to question whether he can reconcile his supressed desires with his dreams of success. Leah, the captain's wife, has almost forgotten the dreams she once held, for her career, her marriage. Moving again, as her husband is transferred from club to club, she is lost, disillusioned with where life has taken her. A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781910702666
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 605 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 32 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Supremely accomplished and moving... A masterful performance... This is a gripping, mature, important novel. It would be a travesty if it doesn't win prizes." -- William Skidelsky * Observer *
"A layered and subtle exploration of masculinity, fear and desire, A Natural is as good a novel as I've read in years. The poignancy of Ross Raisin's characters are equalled only by the brilliance of his writing." -- John Boyne
"Admirable ... genius ... amazing... vertiginous." -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times *
"A Natural is a brilliant, deft and moving coming of age novel about the nature of masculinity and sexuality set against the backdrop of sport. Sensitively and beautifully drawn, it confirms Ross Raisin as a superb writer." -- Carol Ann Duffy
"Most novels about football aren't really about football... They tend to avoid describing the game itself, with its strange mixture of pelting energy and exquisite boredom. Instead they shunt it into the background or repackage it as a metaphor, allowing the simple whacking of a ball into the net to be used as a way of writing about far less tangible goals. Ross Raisin's latest novel is refreshingly different. Following the fortunes of two lower-league footballers, it is a bold attempt to capture sport in the raw... pitch-perfect." -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst * The Times *
"A brave, subtle novel... To a non-fan, the literary football novel can seem a little daunting... Luckily, Ross Raisin's exceptional new novel addresses and overturns these preconceptions and conventional notions of masculinity in the most unexpected and sophisticated fashion... Within the sinuous torque of its sentences, the book presents a subtle and portrait of a soul in torment. It's a winner." -- Jude Cook * Guardian *
"Football, like love, is a world of extreme highs and lows, and the protagonists in this sensitively crafted novel can only find joy when they accept who they really are - five stars." * Sun *
"A powerful evocation of repressed emotion - The Remains of the Day as told by Match of the Day." -- Sam Kitchener * Telegraph *
"A Natural...is not just a football novel. It's about depression, loneliness and the truth behind masculinity." * Irish Tatler *
"Excellent... Raisin excels at hidden stories... this is a richer, deeper novel that purposefully rejects the over-exposed Premier League image of the beautiful game for the grubbier hardscrabble of life at the bottom of League Two... Raisin is really good at exposing the ways men parade ideas of masculinity... a deeply absorbing novel about the coded nature of identity, whether you are a footy fan or not." -- Claire Allfree * Metro *
"Raisin does excellent documentary work. His picture of claustrophobic small-club life is very convincing, and he has fun crushing any of his readers' lingering Roy-of-the-Rovers fantasies... This is a brilliant portrait of a under-explored corner of English life." -- James Marriott * The Spectator *
"Raisin is an extremely skilled world-builder, and his evocation of a lower league football club is intensively, compellingly imagined... As with all the best sports novels, the game at the heart of A Natural is more than just a game." -- Chris Power * New Statesman *
"A believable glimpse into a closed world, from a writer whose outlook is formidably open." * Esquire *
"Movingly explores serious themes... With this book, it feels like the football novel has grown up. If only the game would follow its example." -- Jake Kerridge * Sunday Express *
"This is a beautifully constructed story of slow-burning passion and revenge and what it means to come of age in the high-stakes world of professional sport. It is not just a novel for football fans or sports enthusiasts, but for anyone who cares about how people try to manage their lives face with intense pressure to conform." -- Sarah Hayes * Tablet *
"Ross Raisin has done his homework so well that I spent much of the novel wondering which club had let him inside the changing-room for a season... this may be the most naturalistic rendering of professional football in British fiction since Brian Glanville's 1971 children's novel Goalkeepers Are Different." -- Simon Kuper * Financial Times *
"The pantheon of top-class soccer novelists has never been large, but with A Natural Ross Raisin can immediately be ushered into the Premier League exective box occupied by J.L. Carr's How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won The F.A. Cup (1975), Gordon Williams and Terry Venables They Used to Play on Grass (1971), and David Peace's The Damned Utd (2006)." -- D.J. Taylor * The Times Literary Supplement *
"A Natural is a football novel that non-fans can enjoy." * The Week *
"A Natural is a vast advancement on Raisin's already considerable achievement in [his] earlier novels - broader in focus, eschewing the interiority of his previous novels without sacrificing intimacy." -- Anthony Cummins * Literary Review *
"There are visceral moments, on and off the pitch, but A Natural's storytelling purposely avoids Messi-like flourishes. Raisin should be applauded for tackling sexuality within football." -- Julie Vuong * Belfast Telegraph Morning *
"The deservedly feted author Ross Raisin has created a gripping coming-of-age story in this fictionalised exploration of the ruthless compromises the Beautiful Game forces on its players... A subtle tale of what it means to be "a natural" - not just in the masculine world of football, but anywhere." -- Stephen Meyler * RTE Guide *
"More than a book about sport it is a book about a young man struggling to find his groove in the rough and tumble of fairly unforgiving, male society." -- Liam Heylin * Irish Examiner *
"In A Natural, Raisin delves into the life of a lower league English football team - a subject never covered before, as far as I know, in literary fiction. Perhaps it doesn't sound an immediately appealing prospect. But he makes it wholly absorbing." -- Theo Tait * London Review of Books *
"[A] gripping, well-written and moving story, which should interest anyone curious about enclosed worlds and hidden lives... Raisin captures both the sweat and the glory of football. He has mastered the register of manager-speak, with its urgently shouted cliches, and the earnest banter on fans' messaging boards." -- Sameer Rahim * Prospect *
"A Natural makes a conceptual leap that most old-style football fiction laboured to achieve: in the end its characters are as important as the milieu that tethers them and what emerges is an exceptionally good novel, which just happens to take place on a football pitch." -- DJ Taylor * Guardian *
"Raisin provides an authentic portrayal of life in the lower divisions both on and off the pitch. The fine details are present in the pre-match nerves in the changing rooms, the neatly laid out kit and the smell of Deep Heat, but it is the unchecked laddishness, the fake camaraderie and the close scrutiny from supporters on social media that Raisin wants us to feel... This is a rare novel about the challenge of being a gay professional footballer and hopefully it will go some way to help changing perceptions in a sport that has still got a very long way to go." -- Ian Aspinall * Late Tackle *
"Ross Raisin's book about a gay footballer, demands about 200 pages of patience, but you won't regret it. In the vertiginous second half of this rich, wise study of masculinity, Raisin demonstrates with extraordinary sensitivity how difficult it can be to attain E.M. Forster's dictum, "Only connect!"" -- Claire Lowdon * Times Literary Supplement *
"The virtue of devastatingly simple storytelling was also felt in Ross Raisin's A Natural...one of my favourite novels of the year, about a gay footballer hiding an affair with the groundsman at his struggling lower-league team." -- Anthony Cummins * Daily Telegraph *
"A deeply moving portrait of fear and acceptance." -- John Boyne * Irish Independent *
"This seems like one of those books designed to fold straightaway into contemporary liberal conversation." * The Skinny *

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Reviews

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“Tough times in a man's world”

Raisin seems to specialise in writing about the male psyche - and especially about men in difficult emotional situations. We read about women going through hard times a lot - and in some excellent books - but... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
1st April 2017
Helpful? Upvote 54

“Remarkable & Unlikely”

This is a novel imbued with the masculine fug of a high-school changing room; of the confident boys hurling insults at anyone who even slightly transgresses from what is considered normal: wearing briefs instead of... More

Hardback edition
7th March 2017
Helpful? Upvote 41

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