‘Funny, Moving and Idiosyncratic.’
‘A loving, accurate and funny book.’
Widely acclaimed for its warm humour, lyricism and honesty, as well as its accurate evocation of the thirties,Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve has become a sung-after classic. In this delightful autobiographical novel, Dannie Abse skilfully interweaves public and private themes, setting the fortunes of a Jewish family in Wales against the troubled backcloth of the times- unemployment, the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, and the Spanish Civil War.
About the author:
Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff in 1923. He began his medical studies at the Welsh National School of Medicine and qualified as a doctor from Westminster Hospital, London in 1950. While still a student his first book of poems was published and his first play performed. Further poetry volumes followed over the decades, culminating in his New & Collected Poems (2003)and Running Late(2006). His first novel, Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve appeared in 1954 and his most recent, the Booker long-listed The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds and Dr Glas in 2002. His three prize-winning plays were collected in The View from Row G (1990) and his autobiography, Goodbye, Twentieth Century, was published in 2001. He is president of the Welsh Academi and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
One might expect a poet’s prose to be full of flowery descriptions and metaphors, but not if that writer is Dannie Abse. His modus operandi is both tougher and more human. He is a rare example of a person who has made a commitment to the wellbeing of body and spirit simultaneously through the arts and sciences. Dannie, the young protagonist of Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve, feels attracted by two kinds of work. In conversation with his friend, Keith, he reflects on this: ‘I’ve been thinking,’ I said. ‘What?’ he asked. ‘I think I’ll become a doctor after all.’ ‘Thought you were going to be a poet and an assassin,’ Keith reminded me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘One must choose the difficult path. It’s too easy to be a poet, or to knock off a few heads of Europe. Too easy. I’ll take the difficult path. Anyway, I believe in Democracy.’ ‘What’ll you be tomorrow?’ smiled Keith. ‘Dunno,’ I said.