ANCESTORS

Adventures in a Foreign Country
A Novel

Graham Holderness

About this book
 
This highly original novel by the internationally acclaimed author Graham Holderness is an historical novel which is also part contemporary chronicle, part autobiographical. It explores, in principle, the challenges of personal ancestry and heritage, and the contemporary loyalties of us all in a rapidly changing country

Holderness tells the story of a typical modern intellectual, nearing the end of his career as an academic, a radical political activist and internationalist facing fundamental choices of how to live and where to belong.

The focal figure is self-described as rootless, unanchored, a citizen of the world, but with no homeland of his own. Yet on his sixtieth birthday his son, who has taken an interest in family history, gives him as a present a genealogical DNA test. From this modest intervention flow various unforeseen consequences which ultimately turn his world upside down.

Exploring an unknown history, he realises that his own ancestry is nothing like what he believed it might be. He has to learn more about remote periods of history endured and shaped by his ancestors. He is forced to revalue his parents, his children, himself and his place in the world. Eventually he is compelled to revalue his country.

In parallel to the modern story is a separate narrative, tracing three generations of his ancestors – from when Scandinavians were forced to quit Iceland by the Katla eruption of 939. This story traces the family’s history across three generations, as they settle in England, and find their status changing from refugees to settlers with their own stake in the country. By 991 one of them stands with Ealdorman Byrhtnoth at the Battle of Maldon, defending his homeland against Viking invaders.

The two narratives converge as the decade ends in contemporary Britain with Brexit. In the light of his new knowledge and understanding, and a new relationship with his children, our ‘hero’ encounters the challenges of asking where do his loyalties lie? To whom does he belong – to the world, or to the past, family, country? Is he a cosmopolitan internationalist, an arriviste who has never truly belonged, whose homeland is always somewhere else? Or a native of England, and a citizen of a new, revalued Britain?


About the author

Graham Holderness is a writer and critic who has published, as author or editor, more than sixty books, many on Shakespeare, and hundreds of chapters and articles of criticism, theory and theology. His more recent work has pioneered methods of critical-creative writing, exemplified by Nine Lives of William Shakespeare (Bloomsbury/Arden Shakespeare, 2011); Tales from Shakespeare: Creative Collisions (Cambridge University Press, 2014); and Re-writing Jesus: Christ in 20th Century Fiction and Film (Bloomsbury, 2014): Samurai Shakespeare​ (EER, 2021).  He has published several works of fiction: The Prince of Denmark (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2001; EER, 2021); Ecce Homo (Bloomsbury, 2014); Black and Deep Desires: William Shakespeare Vampire Hunter (Top Hat Books, 2014); and Meat, Murder, Malfeasance, Medicine and Martyrdom: Smithfield Stories (EER, 2019). 



 

Available May 2022

ISBN 9781913087821  Hardback  £19.99   ​Order
ISBN 9781913087838  eBook        £ 9.99    ​Order
216 x 140mm.  c.220 pages.

Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.


EER