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Mr Vogel

Lloyd Jones
Publication Date: 
Friday, September 24, 2004
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Winner of the' McKitterick First Novel Award'

Shortlisted for the 'Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction'

"ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE BOOKS EVER WRITTEN ON THE SUBJECT OF WALES." So said Jan Morris of Lloyd Jones’ extraordinary debut novel, Mr Vogel. Acclaimed novelist Iain Sinclair, meanwhile, has described it as "the tour-guide Wales has been waiting for."

One of the most original and engaging novels to appear from - and about - Wales in recent years, Mr Vogel is all the more remarkable for the author’s own amazing story. Following a bout of alcoholism which nearly killed him, Lloyd decided to recuperate by walking around Wales. It was this epic walk which inspired Lloyd to write Mr Vogel, "an astonishing mixture of fantasy, philosophy and travel" (Jan Morris).

The novel begins with the discovery, in the attic of a second-hand bookshop, of an account of a lame man’s mysterious quest - the so-called ’Vogel Papers’; the account tells of an unnamed colonial outpost, a land which resembles Wales but which is somehow skewed. Our guide, a Welshman, becomes obsessed with the Vogel Papers: his investigations take him across three continents and around his homeland - from Anglesey to Pembrokeshire, from Bangor to the Black Mountains - in search of a strange man known only as Mr Vogel. Accompanied by his reprobate friends Paddy and Waldo, as well as a motley crowd of academics, osteopaths and famous writers (not to mention a piglet and a couple of teddybears), our narrator gradually nears the end of his search. Only then does it become clear that the real Mr Vogel was never very far away after all.

Mr Vogel is a story of one man’s dream of freedom, love and friendship. Compelling and warm-hearted, it is at once a novel, an anthology and a memoir; above all it is a reflection on the importance of hope and a celebration of Wales’ culture, landscape and people. In the words of Iain Sinclair, "Stop what you’re doing and listen to this mongrel monologue!"

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