Hugh Bawn was a modern hero, a dreamer, a man of the people who revolutionized Scotland's residential development after World War II. Now, as he lies dying in one of his own buildings, his grandson Jamie comes home to watch over him. It is Jamie who tells the story of his family, of three generations of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of Catholic faith and the end of political idealism. It is a tale of darkness amidst the search for Utopia. A poignant and very powerful reclamation of the past, Our Fathers is also a clearsighted and beautifully crafted look at public and personal history.
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The religious overtones of the title are suffused throughout this elegy for left-wing idealism, in which James Bawn goes back to his dying grandfather, a man who tried to give people their daily bread in terms of high rise housing, and meets again his alcoholic father, whose trespasses might not be forgiven. O’Hagan creates a machine for moral understanding and an affecting plea for empathy. -- Stuart Kelly
Andrew O’Hagan is the author of the novels Our Fathers, Personality, and, most recently, Be Near Me, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His work has appeared in the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and The Guardian (U.K.). In 2003, O’Hagan was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. He lives in London, England.