On the Red Hill
WINNER OF THE WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2020
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2020
‘A moving story of love, tradition and landscape.’ Evening Standard, ‘Books of the Year’
‘A moving, multilayered memoir… extraordinary, ambitious… its scope is immense. A book that is deep in riches.’ Simon Callow, Guardian
‘A marvellous book… an uplifting tale of tranquillity sought and found in the nearest Britain gets to paradise.’ Simon Jenkins
‘There are worlds on worlds within this lyrical and profoundly cultured book. In an age of toxic artifice, this is the most necessary medicine: the tenderness of reality and the living, elemental, world.’ Jay Griffiths
A multi-layered memoir of love, acceptance, finding home and the redemptive power of nature.
In 2006, Mike Parker and his partner Peredur were witnesses at the civil partnership of their friends Reg and George, the first in the small Welsh town of Machynlleth. Years later, when Reg and George died within a few weeks of each other, Mike and Peredur discovered that they had been left their home: a whitewashed ‘house from the children’s stories’, buried deep within the hills.
On the Red Hill is the story of Rhiw Goch, ‘the Red Hill’, and its inhabitants, but also the story of a remarkable rural community and a legacy that extends far beyond bricks and mortar. It is a story that celebrates the turn of the year’s wheel, of ever-changing landscapes, and of the family found in the unlikeliest of places.
Highly commended by the judging panel for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing
‘A delightful book about beauty, joy, love and home… to be celebrated and read.’ Sara Maitland
‘A great queer rural triumph of a book – wonderfully passionate, funny and insightful. It overflows with love.’ Tom Bullough
Ostensibly set in one house in rural Wales, there are worlds on worlds within this lyrical and profoundly cultured book. In an age of toxic artifice, this is the most necessary medicine: the tenderness of reality and the living, elemental, world. -- Jay Griffiths Structurally innovative, linguistically precise, and emotionally enervating, On the Red Hill is a praise-poem to adventure, belonging, the power of nature and, above all, to the resilience of human beings and the love between them. Parker's great strength and passion is in illuminating certain hidden strata of these islands, in the unearthing and re-telling of stories silenced by the forces of political history; here, he applies those talents to his own biography, and to some of those blessed enough to share it. He has produced a beautiful, immersive and - in these testing times - vital and necessary book. -- Niall Griffiths Intense, fascinating account of queer lives in rural Wales over almost five decades ... holds a mirror up to the often hidden gay lives of the past century ... The result, in prose as swooping as the birds that teem about the house, is an important study of everyday gay life before and after decriminalisation. It is also (for Parker is nothing if not ambitious) an intimate account of the stunning natural beauty of this part of Wales, and its proud history ... By turns euphoric and melancholy, he matches his emotions to the seasons ... It is through this unusual book, a lovely hybrid of memoir, panegyric and queer history, that Parker too ... seems at last to find his own noddfa - sanctuary - and with it a sense of belonging. * Daily Telegraph * A marvellous book. It is an uplifting tale of tranquillity sought and found in the nearest Britain gets to paradise. -- Simon Jenkins On the Red Hill is an extraordinary book: brave and ground-breaking. It is far more than a queer and Welsh Howards End. Gossipy, inquisitive, confessional, lyrical, elegiac and camp-ly witty by turns, Parker offers us an unexpected and important meditation on change and on belonging, presenting four different gay lives associated with a single house. He shows us what it is that makes these lives matter. -- Peter J. Conradi
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