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Philip Miller | Allen & Un­win | $30

Two nov­els are march­ing in tan­dem here. One is the fa­mil­iar sur­vival-in-dystopia story – Scot­land has de­volved into a bunch of squab­bling city-states and a dis­il­lu­sioned jour­nal­ist looks for his son, Roland, af­ter riot po­lice crush a stu­dent demon­stra­tion. In the other, a su­per­nat­u­ral story, a young boy (er, Roland) wakes up in the af­ter­life, meets his talk­ing spirit dog and sets off in search of his lost mother. Fa­ther goes through hell and son goes to heaven. Although the dual plots are oc­ca­sion­ally dis­ori­en­tat­ing, Miller’s tale ex­poses the frag­ile na­ture of both so­cial or­der and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. His de­scrip­tive prose, es­pe­cially of the Or­wellian beast Glas­gow has be­come, makes for a re­ward­ing read.

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