Length: 288 pages
About: Tormented rear-gunner revisits Germany post-war
Style: 1st, 2nd and 3rd person
Where: England and Germany
Alfred Day wanted his war. In its turmoil he found his proper purpose as the tail-gunner in a Lancaster bomber; he found the wild, dark fellowship of his crew, and - most extraordinary of all - he
found Joyce, a woman to love. But that's all gone now - the war took it away. Maybe it took him, too.
Now in 1949, employed as an extra in a war film that echoes his real experience, Day begins to recall what he would rather forget...
"Joyce leans back slightly, stretches out her hand into the grass - she's sitting on your jacket. You love that she's sitting on your jacket, it makes you delighted.
'It is very ... it's pretty.' But everything about her is only sad.
You would like to ask why, but don't in case this has to do with you."
Day’s internal life is a vacuum into which his memories rush – of combat, of his comrades, of his violent father, of his love for a woman named Joyce - and in a spellbinding display of literary
ventriloquism, Kennedy convincingly animates a war-damaged veteran of 60 years ago and makes his plight painfully relevant to today.
But this is anything other than a tragic study of the effects of war, because as well as being a master-class in literary style, Day is informed throughout by steely wit and a roving intelligence,
and it deservedly won the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award.
Daily Telegraph Toby Clements, 14th July 2008
Not so good
A woman born in 1965 who writes a novel about an RAF bomber crew in the second world war needs a gift for bringing history alive, as well as guts and true bravado. AL Kennedy has them all. Her
picture of what war does to people burns with wisely unstated saeva indignatio. The young gunner who is the central figure of the book is drawn with profound sympathy. Her narrative gift is great.
Yet the book never quite worked for me.
The Guardian, Ursula K Le Guin, 7 April 2007
About the author
Alison Louise Kennedy (born 22 October 1965 in Dundee) is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is known for a characteristically dark tone, a blending of realism and
fantasy, and for her serious approach to her work. She contributes columns and reviews to UK and European newspapers including the fictional diary of her pet parrot named Charlie.
Kennedy currently lives in Glasgow and is an Associate Professor in Creative Writing with University of Warwick, having previously taught creative writing at the University of St Andrews.
Kennedy performs as a stand-up comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe, comedy clubs and literary festivals. She is principally associated with The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh.