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The BookBrowse Review

Published May 21, 2014

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

In The Wolf's Mouth
by Adam Foulds
3 Jun 2014
336 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN-13: 9780374175825
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Set in North Africa and Sicily at the end of World War II, In the Wolf's Mouth follows the Allies' botched "liberation" attempts as they chased the Nazis north toward the Italian mainland. Focusing on the experiences of two young soldiers - Will Walker, an English field security officer, ambitious to master and shape events; and Ray Marfione, a wide-eyed Italian American infantryman - the novel contains some of the best battle writing of the past fifty years. Eloquent on the brutish, blundering inaccuracy of war, the immediacy of Adam Foulds's prose is uncanny and unforgettable.

The book also explores the continuity of organized crime in Sicily through the eyes of two men—Angilù, a young shepherd; and Cirò Albanese, a local Mafioso. These men appear in the prologue and in the book's terrifying final chapters, making it evident that the Mafia were there before and are there still, the slaughter of war only a temporary distraction.

In the Wolf's Mouth has achieved an extraordinary resurrection, returning humanity to the lives lost in the writing of history.

"Foulds writes like no one else; while individual scenes are rendered with poetic simplicity, they fit together into an elliptical, complex plot readers will puzzle over long after finishing this novel." - Kirkus

"The supple, sensuous beauty of his prose is bewitching: like the helpless children of Hamelin we follow wherever he chooses to lead, however horrifying the terrain, enchanted by the unstoppable flow of rich, unforgettable images." - Financial Times (UK)

"Foulds' acknowledged mastery as a novelist and as a poet... is often apparent in this book: in the ambiguous dialogues between strangers revealing unspoken intimacies, in the delicately clipped snippets of everyday life recalled in the confusion of war, in the lyrical broken-up sentences that mirror the physical and mental shattering of the ongoing slaughter." - The Guardian (UK)

"Adam Foulds is a young British novelist of striking talent and eclecticism. His style is first-rate, combining precision with a rich poetic imagination. He is able to do more with language, and at greater depth, than most other British novelists of his generation." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"On the level of the sentence, there's much to admire in this novel. Foulds has a searching eye for detail and an apparently helpless compulsion to wring imagery from his subject." - The Telegraph (UK)

"It's in these battle scenes where Foulds excels... Here, Foulds, a Costa award-winning poet, matches his flair for rhythm with a skillful ownership of both his prose and a complex narrative. All delivered with a minimalist restraint." - The Independent (UK)

"There is a different kind of poetry in Foulds's descriptions of battle, in the chaos of a defeated town, in the disintegration of a mind... that speaks of the horrors of war but also of the legacy those horrors leave." - The Independent on Sunday (UK)

"Foulds dramatizes the confusion of the time very well... Foulds's portrayal of the Mafia mentality, and how this is expressed in action, is as admirable as it is disturbing." - The Scotsman (UK)

"As well as being strong on atmosphere - the novel has some of the most vividly evoked battle scenes I've read in ages - he doesn't shy away from taking risks.... To cap it all he's as adept at writing about sex as he is about being shot at." - John Preston, London Evening Standard (UK)

Adam Foulds was born in 1974, graduated Oxford University, took a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia, and now lives in South London. His book-length narrative poem, The Broken Word, was shortlisted for a number of awards, including the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and won the 2008 Whitbread Costa Poetry Award. His first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times, was published in 2007 and he was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2008. Penguin will publish The Broken Word in winter 2011.

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