Scablands and Other Stories

Dr Jonathan Taylor


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Salt Publishing
15 July 2023
ISBN: 9781784632946
208 pages

From the publisher

These are tales from the post-industrial scablands – stories of austerity, poverty, masochism and migration. The people here are sick, lonely, lost, half-living in the aftermath of upheaval or trauma. A teacher obsessively canes himself. A neurologist forgets where home is. A starving woman sells hugs in an abandoned kiosk.

Yet sometimes, even in the twilit scablands, there’s also beauty, music, laughter. Sometimes a town square is filled with bubbles. Sometimes sisters dream they can fly. Sometimes an old man plays Bach to an empty street, two ailing actors see animal shapes in clouds, a cancer survivor searches for a winning lottery ticket in her rundown flat. And sometimes Gustav Mahler lives just round the corner, hoarding rare records in a Stoke terrace.


Scablands is a splendid collection of clever and energetic stories, shot through with darkness and sadness, wit and love.’ —Alison Moore

‘Powerful tales from a master story-teller. Devastating, disturbing and tender by turns, these vivid vignettes explore seams of horror and pain as people struggle to survive the modern world. Taylor peels back the skin of the urban wasteland to reveal that however broken his characters and however wretched their conditions, what mostly remains is love.’ —Maggie Brookes-Butt