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Skin by Tobias Hill

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

First published in 1998 this is a collection of short stories by an impressive storyteller, most famous for his complex literary novels. Moving effortlessly between cultures and ages Hill focuses on drifters, loners and those who often see society from slightly outside it and shows the world as you’ve never seen it from London to Japan to Las Vegas.

If you like Tobias Hill you might also like to read books by Joe Dunthorne, Tim Winton and David Vann.

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Skin by Tobias Hill

In an isolated trailer home in the far north of Japan, an old criminal scrutinizes his tattooed skin while he waits for the past to catch up with him. A year later, the life of a young policeman breaks down as he investigates a tattooed corpse and the history of death and guilt embedded in its skin. The grief of a young computer programmer who cannot erase the ghostly memories of his twins. The vicious logic of the games played by children while their parents sip drinks under parasols. And London Zoo, where the disappearance of dead animals is blamed on the 'Featherman', an eerie bodysnatcher who passes through London's wastelands and derelict spaces, leaving no trace for the feathers of green humming-birds.


'The first collection of short stories by the poet and critic Tobias Hill could serve as a masterclass in the genre ... Quite apart from the excellence of their construction and the quality of the writing, these stories, with their many and far-ranging voices, all have a cool, clear beauty' Sunday Telegraph

'Whether exploring the despair of a Yakuza hitman or the grief of a bereaved father, Hill reveals the pain beneath the shimmering surface. What's more, the repetition of names and locations around the world, and the careful echoing of detail, transmutes these tales into a subtle and stylish novel' Time Out

'His prose resonates with the precise, sensuous energy of his poetry. He writes with astonishing assurance' Observer

'The poetry of his writing lies in its surprise and precision - a smell of mustard in the flash of a gun, for instance, which would have delighted Nabokov - or an understated lyricism which recalls Raymond Carver ... Already an award-winning poet, Skin establishes Tobias Hill as an important writer of fiction' The Times

'Outstanding ... 27-year-old Tobias Hill has written verse about his two-year stay in Japan, and this preoccupation is developed in 'Skin', the longest tale, dealing with the grizzly death of a Yakuza who has a full-body tattoo - most of the corpse has been dissolved with acid, so the detective-hero must identify the remains by looking for clues in the text of his skin. The other stories are equally consuming. Altogether, Hill's fictional debut is a work of great intelligence' Guardian

'An antidote to all those frail, go-nowhere exercises in solipsism you might expect from a debut collection ... A distinctive and sensitive first collection from an assured new voice' Independent on Sunday

'Excellent ... Hill proves himself adept at evoking foreign voices and locales by accumulating significant detail' Sunday Times

About the Author

Tobias Hill was born in London. In 2003 the TLS nominated him as one the best young writers in Britain. In 2004 he was selected as one of the country's Next Generation poets and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. His collection of stories, Skin, won the Pen-Macmillan Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. What Was Promised is his fifth novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th January 2015


Tobias Hill

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


208 pages


Literary Fiction
Thriller / Suspense
eBook Favourites
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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