Outside the House of Baal
Seren, 1996 - English fiction - 411 pages
1963. Over the course of a single morning, J.T. Miles looks back over seventy years of his lifetime. It has been a period of huge change everywhere, but especially in Wales. His country has changed from a rural, religious, Welsh-speaking society where heaven is achieved through living a 'good life', to a place like so many others, where technology is making 'heaven on earth' possible.
A preacher, J.T. has tried to live a good life. He opposed the Great War and spoke out against much wrongdoing, as his Christian duty, when perhaps he should have shown more understanding. His confusion and sense of failure is compounded by the presence of his sister-in-law Kate, who shares his house and who at one time he might have married. Instead he had chosen Lydia, free-spirited and strong-willed. J.T. and Kate; the events of one morning confront those of two lives which are themselves confronting each other for the first time.
In this classic novel, flashes of revelation illuminate their stories, which connect small events with the drama of a wider history. Emyr Humphreys explores the splendours and miseries of Welsh experience, but what consolations are there for J.T. and Kate?
"In a phrase or two Emyr Humphreys' people are solid and present. If novels are about the human heart then this is an impressively central one." - The Sunday Telegraph
"One of the most gifted of novelists. He has an instinctive sense of the ways in which men and women are shaped by their environment, an eye for the incident that reveals a character, a deep feeling for the poetry which is a part of everyday life, the sharp and loving clarity of some Dutch master." - Goronwy Rees
"The greatest novel of anglophone Welsh literature." - M. Wynn Thomas
"The sort of writer who would be in the running for a Nobel Prize if Wales had lobbyists in Stockholm." The Observer