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Tom used to have big dreams. But he's been let go by the Premier League academy of his boyhood, and now he finds himself playing for a tiny club in a town he had never heard of. Tom is lonely, isolated and craving recognition, until a thrilling encounter offers him the promise of escape.
A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.
FROM THE REVIEWS
“Raisin adumbrates Tom’s sexual awakening as sensitively as Alan Hollinghurst, as lubriciously as Edmund White. Not since Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain has there been a better portrayal of a conflicted male sexuality.”
— The Guardian
"A Natural is a brilliant, deft and moving coming-of-age novel about the nature of masculinity and sexuality set against the backdrop of sport. Sensitively and beautifully drawn, it confirms Ross Raisin as a superb writer."
— Carol Ann Duffy
"The effect is pitch-perfect."
— The Times
"A bold novel...(Ross Raisin has a) deep and unwavering empathy for others, and an ability to find flashes of beauty in life's unforgiving ugliness... The confidence and skill with which he pursues his vision is not just persuasive, it's powerful."
— New York Times Book Review
"A layered and subtle exploration of masculinity, fear and desire, A Natural is as good a novel as I've read in years. The poignancy of Ross Raisin's characters is equalled only by the brilliance of his writing."
— John Boyne
"Ross Raisin is an extremely skilled world-builder, and his evocation of a lower-league football club is intensively, compellingly imagined... As with all the best sports novels, the game at the heart of A Natural is more than just a game."
— New Statesman
"A powerful evocation of repressed emotion - The Remains of the Day as told by Match of the Day."
— Daily Telegraph
"A believable glimpse into a closed world, from a writer whose outlook is formidably open."
"Raisin does excellent documentary work. His picture of claustrophobic small-club life is very convincing, and he has fun crushing any of his readers' lingering Roy-of-the-Rovers fantasies... This is a brilliant portrait of an under-explored corner of English life."
"Supremely accomplished and moving... A masterful performance... This is a gripping, mature, important novel. It would be a travesty if it didn't win prizes."
"Football, like love, is a world of extreme highs and lows, and the protagonists in this sensitively crafted novel can only find joy when they accept who they really are."
— The Sun
"Movingly explores serious themes... With this book, it feels like the football novel has grown up. If only the game would follow its example."
— Sunday Express