Jamie Reviews: Andy Mulligan—"Trash"
Trash is in no way a pretty book; the cover is an illustration of a landfill of Himalayan proportions. The setting is in essence a community built around a pile of, as the inhabitants call it “Stuppa”, what we would politely call human waste. And the main characters are garbage sorters of the kind that is all too common in third world countries.
Beneath the filth that is part and parcel of the story reside some very human characters: Raphael and Gardo, two somewhat emotionally scarred teenage trash sorters, and Rat, a young man that starts off alone and grimy but proves to be a creature of natural instincts within.
This story is not an overly complex one. Raphael recovers a discarded bag during his usual day salvaging what he can from an endless field of refuse; the money within promises short lived luxury, the map and key a mystery. A confusing but fortunate find for the boy, until the corrupt police arrive to look for the bag in order to solve a crime.
Now when I say this is not a pretty book, I don’t just refer to the cover and setting, nor just the characters and lifestyle to which they are accustomed— this book exposes things about human nature that are not comforting to those of us who live much more fortunate lives.
There is violence against children, against adults, corruption at all levels, political embezzlement, exposure to lives that we could not imagine living but that are lived by many, many people.
I don’t say that to dissuade a reader from this book. It is good, very good. As I learned a long time ago it takes truly great work to make you feel sick to your gut, and this book does that on many levels.
It’s dark, gritty, and well written (if not pretty). Pick it up and give it a read— just don’t let it end up on the Trash heap.
Trash – Andy Mulligan
October 12th 2010 by David Fickling Books
Paperback, 224 pages