A noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry, The Long Take is one of the most remarkable – and unclassifiable – books of recent years. Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish.
The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties. While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.
Robin Robertson's The Long Take is a work of thrilling originality.
Abut the author
Robin Robertson was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland and now lives in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published five collections of poetry and has received a number of honours, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and all three Forward Prizes. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, was published in 2014 and The Long Take was published in February 2018.
The judges on the shortlist
Elif Shafak on The Long Take
Composed in a mixture of verse and prose, The Long Take is a book with a big heart. The beauty of the language will seduce the reader from the very start. How do we put ourselves back together in a damaged world? How do we keep our conscience alive and ourselves well-balanced when everything else is slipping away, changing too fast? How much of the past should we allow ourselves to even remember when all that matters is to stay in the present moment, to stay afloat? By taking this long journey west - across New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles - Robin Robertson tells a universal story. With its undeniable beauty; quiet, modest but strong pull, this book will shift something in your soul. By the time you have finished reading it, you won't quite be the same.