Advertisement

The City of the Farset: Portrayals of Belfast in Three Novels by Glenn Patterson

  • Terry Phillips
Chapter
Part of the Literary Urban Studies book series (LIURS)

Abstract

This chapter discusses three novels, by Glenn Patterson, Burning Your Own, Number 5 and The International, all set in the city of Belfast, the first two in suburban areas, illustrating an often neglected but very important aspect of urban living: the areas away from the centre of a city, areas where in fact most of the inhabitants live. All three novels highlight the sense of urban districts as shared spaces with their own complex power structures and power struggles, which are reflected in Burning Your Own in the struggles for dominance within the gang formed by the local youngsters. For the inhabitants of these shared spaces, their locality forms the context of their daily activities, which are framed by their subjective observations of the streets within which they live: central and well-known areas in The International, which find their echoes in the mind of the reader. The modern city is seen as impermanent, in a constant state of flux. This is particularly noteworthy in Number 5, with its focus on a single house, built on an estate which was originally an extension of the city boundary but, eventually, several decades later, formed an integral part of the city. All three novels demonstrate the importance of political, social and economic power, the last of which is particularly significant, with its power to change the landscape of the city. Particularly in The International there is an ethnic mix, more likely to be found in urban than rural communities. The novels do not ignore ‘the Troubles’ but convey a broader interest in the city of Belfast, both its distinctive elements and its typicality, and connections with other parts of the world.

Keywords

Glenn Patterson Burning Your Own Number Five The International Belfast Suburban Power structures Power struggles Shared spaces ‘The Troubles’ Ethnic mix Impermanent Landscape Estates 

References

  1. Alexander, Neal. ‘Remembering to Forget: Northern Irish Fiction after the Troubles.’ In Irish Literature Since 1990, 272–283. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  2. Balshaw, Maria, and Liam Kennedy, eds. ‘Urban Space and Representation.’ In Urban Space and Representation. London: Pluto Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  3. Donald, James. Imagining the Modern City. London: Athlone Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  4. Herrschel, Tassilo. ‘Cities, Suburbs and Metropolitan Areas—Governing the Regionalised City.’ In Suburbanisation in Global Society. Research in Urban Sociology 10, 107–130. London: Emerald, 2010.Google Scholar
  5. Hicks, Patrick. ‘A Conversation with Glenn Patterson.’ New Hibernia Review 12, no. 2 (Summer, 2008): 106–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Johnston, Wesley. ‘Belfast Urban Motorway & Westlink.’ Northern Ireland Roads Site, 1967. http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/roads/belfasturbanmotorway.html. Accessed April 13, 2017.
  7. Kennedy-Andrews, Elmer. Fiction and the Northern Ireland Troubles since 1969: (De)constructing the North. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  8. Parker, Michael. Northern Irish Literature, 1975–2006. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.Google Scholar
  9. Patterson, Glenn. Burning Your Own. London: Minerva, 1993a.Google Scholar
  10. ———. Fat Lad. London: Minerva, 1993b.Google Scholar
  11. ———. Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain. London: Chatto and Windus, 1995.Google Scholar
  12. ———. The International. London: Transworld Publishers, 1999.Google Scholar
  13. ———. Number 5. London: Penguin, 2004.Google Scholar
  14. ———. The Mill for Grinding Old People Young. London: Faber & Faber, 2012.Google Scholar
  15. ———. ‘In Praise of Belfast.’ The Guardian, Sec. Travel. March 15, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/mar/15/praise-of-belfast-glenn-patterson-northern-ireland.
  16. Patterson, Glenn, and Richard Mills. ‘Nothing Has to Die: An Interview with Glenn Patterson.’ In Northern Narratives, 113–129. Writing Ulster 6. Belfast: University of Ulster, 1999.Google Scholar
  17. Short, John Rennie. The Urban Order. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.Google Scholar
  18. ———. Urban Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.Google Scholar
  19. Young, Iris Marion. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations