Winner of the Wales Book of the Year award, the Rhys Davies Fiction Prize, and the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award, shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author’s Club First Novel Award, this novel, the first to be published simultaneously in English (original) and Welsh (translation). This venture was undertaken by Parthian Books because of Pigeon’s use of translanguaging and its exploration of linguistic dispossession, which have since been explored by literary critics. It has already been taught on undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the UK and abroad, including at the International University of Venice and the Humboldt University of Berlin, and was chosen as one of only twelve 20th century novels to feature in the Literary Atlas of Wales. It has spawned several adaptations including an artwork called The Missing Piece by Amy Sterly (part of the touring exhibition Cartographic Imaginaries), and adaptations for theatre and television which are currently being undertaken by Theatr Iolo and Cwmni Da.
Pigeon, the novel’s eponymous protagonist, is a boy obsessed with words and language, who yet becomes dispossessed of his own tongue and his own story. The novel questions the value of language and of story itself, and explores the provisionality of the stories we tell ourselves. It attends to metaphors of containment and escape and to how places and languages are different seen from within and from without. Partly for this reason it is narrated polyphonically, and its frequent switches between close first person and both omniscient and close third allow for a sense of both limitation and for the scope of possibilities beyond these limitations, as well as for explorations of otherness and selfhood. Pigeons are homing birds, and the book explores the complex relationship between these characters and their socio-cultural and linguistic home.