‘This frequently surreal tale follows an academic’s entanglement with an oddball group, led by the Falstaffian Arthur Mountain, who share a strange extended tale stretching back to wartime Swansea via Doncaster and Edinburgh. Reminiscent of the work of Kurt Vonnegut, this is a really engaging and entertaining yarn with plenty of knowing literary allusions.’  – Times Higher Education Supplement

‘Nath’s layering of gritty, earthy imagery and philosophical observation lends a unique form to his writing. British Story offers a fond and meticulous account of character, both in its personae and spirit.’ – New Welsh Review

‘A wonderful  exercise in novelistic virtuosity, strange and beautiful.’ – Times Literary Supplement

British Story doles out the kisses and the coshes in equal measure. Fittingly for a book obsessed by the importance of character in literature, Michael Nath’s second novel can best be summed up as a swaggering and beer-bellied roar of anger, tenderness, reflection and resistance. I loved it. Nath takes the reader on an almost encyclopaedic tour of the often violent and always edgy relationships between the English, Welsh and Scottish nations. He is equally adept at providing satellite views of events such as the country’s railway network or the tactics of football hooliganism as he is in zooming down to specific and little-known details. A loud and extraordinarily compelling novel, tussling with the big issues of life and death.’ – The Morning Star, Book of the Year

‘When I came across Michael Nath’s novel, British Story, at a book fair last month, I was hesitant to buy. It seemed like an interesting story, published by the small press Route, who I trust. My worry was more that, since 2016, anything with “British” or “English” or “England” in the title means Brexit. And it doesn’t just mean Brexit. It means a Guardian reader’s Brexit. Veering wildly from sneering at the proles to trembling at jackboots within the space of moments. Brexit hasn’t even happened yet and it’s already ruined literature. Which is why I was so pleased to discover in Nath’s novel an antidote to all of the post-Brexit ugliness. Where other novelists promised to find the “real Britain”, and “capture the spirit of a troubled nation”, only to end up embarrassing themselves, Nath has managed to say something meaningful … British Story is a novel for our time. Michael Nath knows how to write real literature, stuff with heart and character. He isn’t afraid to look life in the eye, despite all of its jagged edges and contradictions, and he knows how to take this and turn it into a story. A British story at that.’ Manchester Review of Books

‘A British academic finds his theory on fictional characters intersecting with the narratives of several eccentrics.

Kennedy is a literature professor who worries a lot: about problems with his Falstaff project, his wife’s desire to conceive, a student’s plagiarism that’s linked to a dalliance he fears will surface, and his theory that literary characters are as real as nonfictional humans. Then he meets Arthur Mountain, a Falstaffian Welshman who sounds like a fictional character: the strident nationalist Citizen in Joyce’s Ulysses. Arthur, who has his own project involving mysterious “stoplines,” brings adventure to Kennedy’s life, breaking his routines with excursions, a picnic and a long story by his wife, Natalie. It tells of a simple man who attends a soccer match and gets caught up in awful violence with “the worst man there is.” Kennedy listens, “as absorbed as a boy at the end of day in the appetising mellowness of chalk.” Things get more than a little meta when characters in the inner tale turn out to be real and everyone seems to be connected—as one might expect in a Dickensian novel, certainly one more conventional than this. Nath (English/Univ. of Westminster; La Rochelle, 2010), includes nods to Shakespeare and Joyce and Tristram Shandy, references enough playing with modernism and literary style to offer an unorthodox survey course with this as the one required text—maybe held in classrooms suffused with the “mellowness of chalk.” The novel has a gem of a minithriller in Natalie’s tale and an overall brain-tickling web of delights and surprises.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘British Story is Michael Nath’s second novel, and what an extraordinary and powerful novel it is too. To sum up the plot briefly, one might say a failed and failing academic meets a larger-than-life Welshman who vaguely resembles Falstaff; but then not everything is what it seems to be. This Falstaff produces – in our hero, our prince – a cataclysmic change for the better, although the ending leaves the question undecided (in my view unsatisfactorily, although artistically this may have merit).

Perhaps what is most remarkable about Michael Nath’s narrative skills is first and foremost his linguistic ability: the language of the story is rich, dense, allusive, elliptic, strange and wonderful; it draws on the full range of English language’s possibilities and capabilities, and indeed I would say it is almost poetry. It is therefore no surprise at the end Nath profusely thanks writers as diverse as Shakespeare, Spenser and WB Yeats!

A couple of examples of arresting sentences must suffice: “Lost be they who are unamazed” and I love: “Ever a portly man, he once kept a pub in Neath. On Spring Bank Holiday ’72, a Hell’s Angels stuck a sheath knife in Fat Parry’s belly. Vibrating, it lodged there till Fats twanged it out, cast it to the floor and said, ‘Should have used a fucking harpoon, mun!’ Then picked up the chair and cracked the Angel’s skull with it.”

At first I found it difficult to discern what the plot was about. We have an overload, almost, of information about Kennedy and Arthur Mountain and the plot seems lost in a swamp of inconsequential details about them and their lives. However, this all becomes very necessary and the characters are about a plot that dovetails neatly and brilliantly together by the time we are two thirds of the way through; so for those who like their plots (real plots – and I am one) you have to wait, Nath teases you, but like a master craftsman, he delivers. And as different as this is from a favourite plot of mine – Lord of the Rings – it does have one character element in common: we do know so much about Kennedy and Mountain, the heroes if you will, for whom we are rooting. But the villain, if villain he be (interpretation questions going on here: let’s hope Nath is not trying to do a James Joyce and setting academics arguing for centuries about exactly what he meant), the cockney, Voight, is much more shadowy and indeterminate, like the Dark Lord himself. The fact that you never really meet the Dark Lord in the novel makes his evil even more sinister; your imagination has to conjure him up. So with Micky Voight. Quite masterful how this is done, and the final confrontation is genius writing, except for Kennedy stepping …Ah! Enough.

I strongly recommend this novel. Michael Nath is a major writer – few I think possess his literary skills, imagination, and in-depth ability to recreate a world from the odds and ends of Wales, London, Scotland, Shakespeare, Spenser and the lesser lights (Yorkshire et al!! LOL). Buy it and give him a review – he deserves it.’ – James Sale

‘A rich, captivating novel. Nath has a wonderful ability as an omniscient narrator, plunging the reader down and then drawing them back up when he wants to. You cannot help but be fascinated, sucked into a world of wild stories punctuated with the odd expletive or wild, roaming tangent. I couldn’t recommend British Story enough.’ – Sophie Dyer, Whooper

‘The great obsession British Story is the subject of character and identity. And yet it’s funny. Often belly-achingly so. Nath’s plot leaves us with questions, a reminder that questions with answers slow to come by are really the stuff of great literature.’ – Ben McKay