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The Litten Path


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About the Author

James Clarke grew up in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, and after living in London and spending time overseas, returned to Manchester, where he now lives. His work has appeared in Ambit, Litro and Northwords Now magazines, and his debut novel, The Litten Path, is forthcoming from Salt.


Clarke moves easily between the registers of class and entitlement, and poverty and disappointment. The landscape, of which he writes with relish, is raw and ever-changing. When his enthusiastic use of imagery works, it is lovely and apposite: a river "golden as chip fat", a mouth "heady with lipstick"... A ferocious portrait of a time and place, The Litten Path is an uneven book but an important one.

-- Catherine Taylor * The Guardian *

The author of this book, The Litten Path, originally from Rossendale, Lancashire, writes a highly impressive tale. The plot is pacy, the family saga realistic, and the social commentary seemingly spot on. Many of the characters are unlikable, but we somehow invest in them ... I can highly recommend this read if you like gritty honesty in your books.

-- Dawn Robinson-Walsh

James Clarke has written a novel in a style that is as memorable as it is unique. This wonderful novel can proudly take its place in the fiery northern literary renaissance.

-- Joe Phelan * Bookmunch *

It is a big subject to tackle, but Manchester-based writer James Clarke, who was brought up in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, chose, in what some might say was a brave move, to make it the setting for his first novel, The Litten Path, published last month. But Clarke is well up to the challenge - it is an extremely impressive debut. Set in a south Yorkshire mining village over the period of the 1984-5 strike, it combines domestic drama with intelligent, nuanced documentary observation and a pacy, page-turning plot.

-- Yvette Huddleston. * The Yorkshire Post *

Clarke's description of the Battle of Orgreave is shockingly raw. The reader can feel the palpitations of Lawrence's heart as he both turns in terror from the relentless police charges and channels his anger and fear onto a nearby camera crew. That powerful description typifies what's an enlightening and energising socialist novel.

-- Paul Simon * Morning Star *

James Clarke has written a cinematic novel of such heart, desperation, and as artfully arranged as a Renaissance painting. It is a fearless portrait of a fearful time, replete with moments of wonder, love, pain, anger, and hope. The Litten Path is about the miners' strike, it is also about the human cost of a system that is still spiralling wildly out of control. Both an important historical record and a warning of what's to come.

-- Ben Brooks * Judge, The Betty Trask Prize *

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