Northern Soul Review for THwTLB

‘It’s a collection whose many seams are as abundant with gold as they are of coal… Swinney’s protagonists have the depth and fleshiness that D.H. Lawrence, writing about similar communities around his native Nottingham, struggled to imbue.’ – Desmond Bullen 

The Map of Bihar and Other Stories

‘The settings for these stories move from Scotland to northern England to India. They all hold the attention and some of them stand out. Internet Explorer is a really good story about a multiracial beginners’ computer class and, unlike most of the other stories, has a happy ending. Veil is a powerfully imaginative story, narrated by a work of art of a nude female; it’s displayed at a council office and the reactions it evokes reveal some of the unhealthy attitudes of our times. The title story is mainly about an arranged Indian marriage but the map in question has little to do with geography; it’s a blackly humorous, somewhat shocking story. Private Passions is set in a building in a Scottish town where an Indian couple run a shop on the ground floor and couples in various states of unhappiness occupy the upper floors. The link between the shop and the sudden death of an elderly racist tenant is established by the deft ending. Strong characterisation, various shades of humour and especially the skilful and unexpected endings make this an impressive debut collection.’  – Brian Maye, Irish Times