On the Black Hill

On the Black Hill


By (author) Bruce Chatwin

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 20mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 19 January 1999
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099769719
  • ISBN 13: 9780099769712
  • Sales rank: 67,524

Product description

On the Black Hill is an elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. They till the rough soil and sleep in the same bed, touched only occasionally by the advances of the twentieth century. In depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience.

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Author information

Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield in 1940. After attending Marlborough School he began work as a porter at Sotheby's. Eight years later, having become one of Sotheby's youngest directors, he abandoned his job to pursue his passion for world travel. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, before announcing his next departure in a telegram: 'Gone to Patagonia for six months.' This trip inspired the first of Chatwin's books, In Patagonia, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award and launched his writing career. Two of his books have been made into feature films: The Viceroy of Ouidah (retitled Cobra Verde), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve's On the Black Hill. On publication The Songlines went straight to No.1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight.

Review quote

"His deepest and best book" Independent "When I think of Bruce Chatwin now, I think of the ultimate storyteller. It's the resonance of the voice and the depth of his vision that makes him one of the truly great writers of our time" -- Werner Herzog, from 'Bruce Chatwin' by Nicholas Shakespeare "Nearly every writer of my generation in England has wanted, at some point, to be Bruce Chatwin; wanted, like him, to talk of Fez and Firdausi, Nigeria and Nuristan, with equal authority; wanted to be talked about, as he is, with raucous envy; wanted above all to have written his books...(he was) a writer no one who cares for literature can afford not to read." -- Andrew Harvey New York Times

Editorial reviews

In the 'black velvet stars and the hexagons of printed calico' that make up the patchwork quilt that covers their bed, unmarried twins Lewis and Benjamin Jones can summon lost memories of the one woman they truly loved - their mother Mary. This novel too has a mesmerizing patchwork structure. Piecing together the thousand events that take place over 80 years in the farm known as 'The Vision', Chatwin arrives at something truly epic. In all his restless journeying, he never wrote a better nor more visionary novel than this one, located closest to home. Dirk Bogarde wrote of On the Black Hill: 'This book was my first meeting with Chatwin. A splendid way to start with this extraordinary writer due now, I would say, to be 'de-hyped' after some years of awe. Whatever is done to him by the intellectual literati lot his power will remain, and this wild, moving, wonderfully researched and, above all, understood, story of two brothers (and those around them) on the bleak, bold, glorious Black Hills of the Welsh borders will remain for all time. He writes so perfectly, so clearly, with such staggering economy, that one is constantly catching one's breath at the splendour that is evoked by perfectly simple, uncomplicated, words beautifully and skilfully set down before delighted eyes. His writing is like clear spring water rather than sugared synthetic liquid in cans.' (Kirkus UK)