Book Review: The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

by James Dixon

Edinburgh – capital of Scotland – a delightful, stimulating, multi-ethnic city, which draws workers and visitors from all corners of the globe. It is the second largest financial centre in the UK, and from its ancient castle overlooking the bustling streets to the wonderful architecture of its Old and New Town, one can see why it was chosen as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

For those who care to look a little closer, however, Edinburgh, like so many beautiful old cities, is notorious for its homelessness.

Writer, James Dixon, a south Londoner by birth, lives in Edinburgh with his wife, the psychologist Dr Lauren Hadley. In this, his latest novel, he has created an offbeat protagonist in Willem Gyle: a slow thinking, hard working labourer who loses everything – his job, his mother, his home, his dog – in a short space of time, and is henceforth divested of his dignity by sneering bureaucrats and pettifogging officials until he winds up living on the streets.

What happens to Willem doesn’t make pretty reading. He is pitched into a filthy, vicious, desperate world where every proffered lifeline is a deceit, and self-respect becomes an absurd impedimenta – so that eventually he is brutalised beyond salvation.

If you demand redemption for your fictional characters then this book is definitely not for you, but if you have a taste for gritty, unrelenting realism, this twenty-first-century allegory is well worth your time.

Many thanks to Thistle Publishing for supplying a review copy of this title.

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