Twenty five years ago, during the spring and summer of 1975, a rapist stalked the streets of Cambridge, attacking young, single women in their bed-sits and flats and subjecting them to horrifying and increasingly violent assaults. For several months the city endured a climate of fear and suspicion, where the old assumptions about sexual relations and civic decency fell into question, and no male could be taken at face value. These events for the background to The Locust Room, John Burnside's extraordinary new novel, in which a young photographer is forced by circumstances to examine his relations with women, with other men and with his family at home. Over one dramatic summer, he becomes involved in a series of sexual intrigues and acts of subtle violence as he journeys towards tentative self-definition and what he comes to see as honourable isolation. What emerges from this atmosphere of tension and terror is Burnside's finest novel so far; an exquisitely written, beautifully observed fiction - and a moving examination of the possibilities of male tenderness, individual autonomy and personal grace.
The Locust Room is a dark, tense, exquisitely cruel, painfully tender novel. It intrigues
A subtle, finely observed mediation on male relationships
The Locust Room is thoughtful, provocative in the best sense, and ultimately moving. It is Burnside at this best. And that is very good indeed