cover image Our Fathers

Our Fathers

Rebecca Wait. Europa, $17 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-60945-571-2

Wait (The Followers) offers a thoughtful and wrenching portrait of a small Scottish town wracked by guilt over an incident of domestic violence. At 31, Tommy Baird returns to the Scottish island of Skellag after years of absence, following the murder-suicide of his mother, Katrina, and his two siblings by his father in 1994 when Tommy was a young boy; he survived by hiding in a wardrobe. Tommy stays with his uncle, Malcolm, despite Malcolm’s reservations due to Tommy’s violent tendencies as a pugnacious adolescent. Wait adroitly maps the craggy psychological terrain beneath Tommy and Malcolm’s loaded silences, using Malcolm’s difficulty in making conversation as a means to explore the shame of inaction as his brother abused Tommy’s family for years. Malcolm’s thoughts are mirrored by the reaction of Fiona, a town busybody who grapples with regrets for not helping when Katrina asked for aid to escape her husband. Wait builds tension through cyclical repetition of the characters’ ruminations as they try to undo the past while revealing more of their own part in what happened. Fans of Patrick McCabe and Jon McGregor will appreciate Wait’s melancholic snapshot. (Feb.)