Western Mail - Weekend


The new novel from Cardiffbas­ed author Carole Burns digs into two of the biggest issues faced by her US homeland – racism and guns – and she does so with great passion and insight, writes Jenny White...


THE event at the heart of Carole Burns’ new novel is, tragically, all too familiar. Joe, a young black man, is gunned down at the home of Aggie, his white girlfriend. The shooter, the son of a cop, claims it was an accident and gets off relatively lightly.

But Cassie, Aggie’s best friend, suspects there is more to the story than meets the eye – and, finding herself back in her hometown as an adult after taking a job at the local newspaper, she starts digging.

The Same Country is a compelling read – an insightful, intelligen­t dive into the intricacie­s and injustices of race relations in the US, a searing indictment of the country’s gun laws and an exploratio­n of the fluidity of memory.

The central murder, its effects on Joe’s family and friends and the fact that real-life stories like this are unfolding in the US on a regular basis, will fill you with rage. Burns’ greatest hope is that the book will have this effect on Trump-supporting readers, causing them to reassess some of their views of their country.

“There’s no point in only reaching a lot of people who are already aware and already against guns. I want to reach people who haven’t thought about this as much, but can see themselves in the book,” she says.

The theme of amnesia – embodied by Aggie’s inability to recall what happened on the night of the murder and a suspicion that events have been rewritten – echoes the collective amnesia that afflicts the US: The ability to forget tragedies like Joe’s soon after they happen, rather than joining the dots, looking at the bigger picture and driving real changes.

“There’s a blindness by white Americans that a lot of writers have written about,” says Burns.

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