Fiction by Niall Griffiths

Grits (2000)

cover of Grits by Niall Griffiths

In the late 1990s, a group of young drifters from various parts of Britain find themselves washed up together in a small town on the west coast of Wales, fixed between mountains and sea. Here, they both explore and attempt to overcome those yearnings and addictions which have brought them to this place: promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, petty crime, the intense and angry search for the meaning which they feel life lacks at the arse-end of this momentous century. A novel about the dispossessed and disenfranchised, about people with no further to fall, Grits is also resolutely about the spirit of the individual, and each character's story is told in their own rich, powerful dialect. Through their voices, the novel charts this chapter in their lives, presenting, with humour and rage and a deep underlying sadness, a picture of the diversity and waste that is life in Britain today. A work of power, passion and enormous originality, Grits describes - in language both mythic and demotic - ways of living that appear squalid but which aspire to the spiritual.

"An astonishing feat -- pulsing on every page with the unmistakable brilliance, authenticity and spirit of a magnificently gifted writer." Irvine Welsh


Sheepshagger (2001)

cover of Sheepshagger by Niall Griffiths

Robbed of his ancestral home - a near-derelict hovel in the mountains of west Wales - Ianto pledges revenge not only on the English yuppies who have turned his grandmother's cottage into a weekenders' barbecue party but on all those who have violated him and the land that is his. This latest act of colonial oppression and desecration triggers his lurid and strange imagination into unspeakable savagery - embodying our most primal fears of physical threat, a world beyond our control.

"Published to critical acclaim last year in the U.K., Sheepshagger, the amazing second novel from Niall Griffiths (Grit), is as raw and unsettling as its title. ... a chilling portrait that is nearly mythological in its intensity and pathos." Publisher's Weekly


Kelly + Victor (2002)

cover of Kelly + Victor by NIall Griffiths

Very shortly after New Year’s 1999, we meet Victor, a perfectly nice young guy with the expected millenial binge-over, reduced employment prospects, lots of friends and no one to share his life with. Victor meets Kelly, a perfectly nice young lady with the expected millenial binge-over, a crappy job and no one to share her life with, and an instant, passionate inferno ignites.

"This is the best doomed love story ever. ... Griffiths’ narration is rich and poetic, his descriptions of events and surroundings passionate and full. ... This isn't a comfortable love story, it isn't Barbara Cartland, but it is very beautiful and powerful and a joy to read." Linguavore



Stump (2003)

cover of Stump by Niall Griffiths

It has taken the loss of a limb and a death threat from the Mob to make one Liverpudlian dry out and move to a small seaside town in Wales. His past life is a recurring nightmare—filth, desperation, and blackouts - and more trouble is only a hundred miles away. Darren and Alastair leave Liverpool, heading south in a rickety old car, sent to wreak violent revenge, but they have only a rough idea of their quarry: a one-armed man.

Interspersed between the scabrous banter and a pitch-perfect street dialect, Niall Griffiths offers stunning descriptions of the Welsh landscape and a dark, knowing humor. Despite the ever present drugs, violence, and anger, he reveals a fragile humanity.

"Niall Griffiths' ambitions in Stump ... go well beyond those of even exceptional cinethrillers. He is an epic and, at moments, visionary writer. He has a deep understanding of Great Britain, particularly of England, Wales, and how they interconnect, socially and historically." Guardian


Wreckage (2005)

cover of Wreckage by Niall Griffiths

After their botched and brutal mission to punish a one-armed man in a small Welsh village, Darren and Alastair head back to Liverpool to report to their mob boss. On the way home, Darren robs a rural postal office in Wales that serves as a bank and needlessly cracks the skull of a little old postal lady. Darren’s eyes are full of fire. “We’re rich, Alastair!” But Alastair sees his own nain in this elderly woman and falls victim to his conscience. Darren has finally gone too far.

As Alastair and Darren weave their way through the lowlife milieu of Liverpool, we hear many voices: the alky, the crack addict, the busman, the whores, the gangsters, and Darren’s many victims. But we also hear the voices of their ancestors going back generations of unthinkable grief and poverty.

“[Wreckage] is a really remarkable piece of work. In the foreground is a caper story; in the background, a poetically expressed, apocalyptic history of Liverpool.” —The Daily Telegraph


Runt (2005)

cover of Runt by Niall Griffiths

On leaving school a sixteen-year-old boy goes to live with his uncle on a remote Welsh hill-farm. His aunt has recently committed suicide after losing her livestock in the foot-and-mouth epidemic and his uncle has turned, once again, to the bottle. The boy is a spiritual savant: an unwitting repository of folk memory from the margins, barely educated but possessed of extraordinary insights; barely literate but able to speak a language of his own - a poetry laden with Pagan and Christian myth. He is unaware that he is gifted and unaware of what he knows. But during one of his ecstatic trances, the boy learns that he has an appointed role in the world, which he must discover for himself. During an episode of brutal and climactic violence, he does exactly that. Told through the boy's internal monologue of beauty and damage, Runt is a powerful, disturbing and moving novel that reinvigorates the language of fiction and illuminates domestic tragedy with a penetrating epic light.

“With incredible beauty and raw violence, the primitive yet emotive monologue drives a powerful story, laden with pagan imagery that exposes the monsters that lurk in the hearts of men.” — WalesOnline


The Dreams of Max and Ronnie, New Stories from the Mabinogion (2010)

the cover of The Dreams of Max and Ronnie, Tales From the New Mabinogion by Niall Griffiths

Iraq-bound young squaddie Ronnie takes something dodgy and falls asleep for three nights in a filthy hovel where he has the strangest of dreams. He watches the tattoed tribes of modern Britain assemble to speak with a grinning man playing war games. Arthurian legend merges with its twenty-first century counterpart in a biting commentary on leadership, individualism and the divisions in British society. Meanwhile Cardiff gangsta Max is fed up with life in his favourite nightclub, Rome, and chases a vision of the perfect woman in far flung parts of his country.

“You might not expect to find Niall Griffiths, a writer whose novels include Grits, Sheepshagger and Stump, poking around among obscure variants of Arthurian legend. Yet he states that however far he travels from Wales, 'the Mabinogion follows me there like luggage'. ... and his stories acquire a unique form of gritty Celtic realism...” Guardian


A Great Big Shining Star (2013)

the cover of A Great Big Shining Star by Niall Griffiths

Sixteen-year-old Grace may be from a small coastal village but she's not staying there. She has huge dreams, and knows from television and magazines that she can get to the big city, she can be a star, simply by changing from a duckling to a swan. It doesn't take much: a little silicone and surgery here and there - enhancement and augmentation - nose, breasts, lips, hair, teeth, nails. Then with the right clothes and a new tan she'll be ready: ready to be seen, consumed and adored by millions on YouTube, television and lifestyle magazines. Grace will become a celebrity.

Someone, though, remembers her as an ordinary, pretty schoolgirl living in a rural paradise: a place of simple, natural beauty. As school caretaker he once bandaged her knee when she fell, and now, when he sees how utterly Grace has changed, he sees clearly how far the world has fallen since those days - taking him with it. The collision of their two lives, their two very different trajectories, can only end in catastrophe.

Written with a raging, lyrical fury, this is a devastating satire on a society fixated on image and celebrity - how innocence and individuality are routinely sacrificed for the totems of sex and wealth and glamour: a magnificent howl of anger and despair at a culture disintegrating into a brittle cult of fame.

“Griffiths's language is lyrical, brutal and startling; it requires and deserves a robust reader. At times, this fury risks shading into a monotone: cosmetic surgery, extreme pornography and natural disasters caused by climate change are described with equal force. Yet this frantic even-handedness is meaningful: in the world Griffiths creates, the ageing and decay of individuals, of a society and of a planet are laid against each other in a portrait of hopelessness and helplessness.” Guardian


 

"Coming of Age," a short story, in the Barcelona Review (2006)

 




Non-Fiction by Niall Griffiths




the cover of Ten Pound Pom by Niall Griffiths

Ten Pound Pom (2013)

In 1976, 10-year-old Niall Griffiths and his family immigrated to Australia from Liverpool as part of the Ten Pound Pom, an assisted-passage plan designed to increase the population of Australia and supply workers for its booming industries. Following three years of residence, the family moved coast-to-coast, from Brisbane to Perth, traveling more than 2,000 miles in a souped-up station wagon.

Thirty years later, Griffiths returned to retrace his steps, chronicling the journey in this part memoir, part travelogue.



the cover of Ten Pound Pom by Niall Griffiths

Real Aberystwyth (2013)

This guidebook provides a remarkable overview of the Welsh town Aberystwyth—a community of two languages that contains a university, a farming community, a port-turned-marina, the National Library of Wales, provides a home for writers and spies alike, and was also made recently famous—or infamous—by Malcolm Pryce’s novels. The travel guide details an enthralling account of a city that is any number of conflicting and complimentary things—from its medieval beginnings through its Victorian heyday to the fluid mix of longstanding natives, large student population, and colony of those who came and never left. Mixing autobiography with topography, aligning the oblique approach with historical report, and contrasting the prosaic with the downright odd, this study paints a vivid picture of a world-famous town.




the cover of Ten Pound Pom by Niall Griffiths

Real Liverpool (2013)

A vivid, witty, and darkly humorous account of of the city of Liverpool, this work explores the various facets of the city—its maritime and merchant histories, class divisions, sectarian divides, Celtic influences, and the siege mentality underpinning the celebrated Scouse humor. Nor does this reference flinch from Liverpool's dark side: the drugs, the urban blight, the fallout from Thatcherism, and the internecine violence. In addition, the narrative is underpinned by a strong autobiographical element—detailing the author's birth and formative years in the city, his movement away from it, and the abiding pull it exerts—and features interviews with many people connected closely to Liverpool, from personal friends and family members to artists and workers. From the Wirral to Warrington, Anfield to Everton, Bootle to Diddyland, this memoir criss-crosses the city by the ferry and through the tunnels, from John Lennon airport to the racecourse and down the docks, building a picture of a city which, whatever its faults, is never dull.




 

Articles by Niall Griffiths in National Geographic Traveller (2006)

 



Film, Theater, Audio

Kelly+VIctor (2012)