Sunday, 3 March 2019

Scavengers

After ten years of struggle, submitting manuscripts and short stories, Darren Simpson’s persistence has paid off as his first mainstream publication Scavengers launches this week. It’s been listed as his debut novel but back in 2016 NottsLit reviewed a crowdfunded novel of his, the inventive The Dust on the Moth, published by Nottingham’s Bees Make Honey. Scavengers is his first book for younger readers although it didn’t start off with any particular market in mind. Simpson witnessed the cats at Calvo tip scrapping over a sandwich. It was enough to spark an idea for a book set on a wasteland. Scavengers was born.

Review
Young Landfill lives with - and occasionally off - the animals of Hinterland. His only human company is old Babagoo. This bearded dump-dweller is Landfill’s role model come authority figure. Babagoo protects Landfill from the outside world, something he does with rules that must be obeyed, such as never go beyond the wall. Landfill has learned to fear the foreigner, anyone beyond the confines of the tip. But Landfill is at an age when he begins to question the rules. Might he dare rebel against Babagoo? 

The feral Landfill is a likeable protagonist, uncorrupted by the materialistic. His wide-eyed wonder and relationship with nature help drive the story. It’s on watching animals breed that he begins to questions his own origins in this coming of age novel with political and societal exploration. Our assumptions are skilfully handled throughout the story, our imagination called upon as we wrestle with our interpretation of the events. Take Babagoo for example, is he sinister, worthy of sympathy, or both? The plot lives in the grey areas that make for debate. 

Whilst it may confuse at first it’s a book of depth and humanity with unexpected reveals and memorable characters. The animals, all named after writers, are also good company, and the artwork is a welcome addition. Both relevant and timeless, Scavengers is a strikingly assured and ambitious ‘debut’, likely to become a favourite of secondary schools and reading schemes for years to come. 

Launch
The launch of Darren Simpson’s Scavengers will take place at Five Leaves Bookshop on Tues 5th March. There’ll be free drinks at 6.30pm, a short reading from the author at 7pm, then discussion until 8pm. Please let Five Leaves know if you’re going by emailing events@fiveleaves.co.uk


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