The Incomers

By Moira McPartlin

Format: Paperback

In 1966 Fife, mixed marriages are unusual, never mind interracial ones, and West African Ellie Amadi, married to estate factor James soon witnesses the villagers' ignorance of outsiders. This novel cleverly explores historical racial prejudice in Scotland and may raise some difficult cultural issues, perhaps still applicable 45 years later.

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Fledgling Press

Fledgling Press is an independent publisher based in Edinburgh. They are committed to publishing work by debut authors, emerging talent and new voices in the literary world. They publish teen novels, fiction, crime fiction, biographies, poetry and short story collections, and produce an eBook for every title they publish.

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Mission-raised Ellie Amadi expects to live a dream life when she and her son Nat leave home in West Africa to join her white, estate factor, husband James in the Fife mining village of Hollyburn. In 1966 Fife, mixed marriages are unusual, never mind interracial ones, and Ellie soon witnesses the villagers' ignorance of outsiders. Ellie struggles to adapt to her new life and rebels against her husband's pressure on her to conform. When she is accused of neglecting her baby, and subjected to an allegation of witchcraft, Ellie questions her ability to go on living among white faces. The story draws on deep parallels between the cultures of West Africa and Scotland. Each chapter ends with a vernacular 'party line' telephone conversation between two village women, tracking the initial animosity towards Ellie and gradually, a grudging acceptance of her. When Nat is abducted by the school bully and nearly drowns, Ellie is stunned by the hostility she receives from an African male doctor. It is only then she realises that prejudice of incomers exists everywhere, and acceptance grows if nurtured by familiarity.

This novel cleverly explores historical racial prejudice in Scotland and may raise some difficult cultural issues, perhaps still applicable 45 years later.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Fledgling Press
Publication Date 14 Mar 2012
ISBN 9781905916450
Number of Pages 294

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Press Reviews

"The Incomers is a graceful, searching tale of a stranger in a strange land. Its emotional resonance and narrative sweep fascinate to the end." Alan Bissett, author of Boyracers, Death of a Ladies Man, The Moira Monologues and Pack Men. "an accomplished debut novel ... The Incomers is a comment on the universality of prejudice as well as an emotive work of fiction." Alastair Mabbott, The Herald. In 1966 Ellie and her baby son Nat arrive in Scotland from west Africa to set up home with Ellie's Scottish estate factor husband. The only black faces most of the population of the small Fife village of Hollyburn have seen outside of the TV up to that point, their arrival causes something of a stir. The Killearn author was taking something of a risk with the subject matter of her debut novel, taking on something that could so easily have gone so wrong in so many ways. Thankfully McPartlin manages to avoid the booby traps, creating in Ellie a character who is engaging, sympathetic and above all very real. The same goes for the villagers themselves, where ideas about the newest face in town are divided in ways that feel perfectly convincing. Some you might say are more bigoted than others, but nowhere among them is there the torch-wielding, foaming at the mouth racist that might have stirred the reader's blood, but would otherwise have brought a cartoon quality to proceedings. Ellie is never entirely friendless, getting on fine with cook and housekeeper Maggie Watson and forging something of a bond with fellow outsider, 10 year old English girl Mary - though this friendship will soon prove more difficulty than blessing. Most of the racism as such is understated, even unconscious on the part of the perpetrators, and it's interesting to see how easy it is to follow Ellie's husband James's line of just "giving it time", before realising these are the words of a well-meaning but ultimately weak individual. McPartlin's master stroke is the inclusion between chapters of phone conversations between two unnamed villagers. Under the heading "The Pairty Line" they show how attitudes towards Ellie change over time as well as illustrating how she's hardly the only one subject to local gossip - and adding a hint of gloriously venomous humour to proceedings. The way several strands are left unresolved at the novel's close might leave some readers dissatisfied, but again I found it entirely believable. Ellie's journey is not over by the final page. At most she is at the end of the beginning. Graceful, delicate stuff that masterfully builds as it goes, painting a picture of a time, place and people that is never less than engrossing. Gregor White, Stirling Observer Short Listed for the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award 2012

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