Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blog child. Probably the shop I visit most often is the op-shop around the corner from my house. There I have bought clothes, shoes, CDs, jewellery, homewares, and most of all, books. I always love to see what they have in there. Anyway, the other day I spied this ludicrously titled novel:

This young adult novel came out in Australia on 1 April, 2008 – unfortunate timing for a book with such an absurd title as Bog Child. Here is the blurb, fiddle-dee-dee potato!
Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she's been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him – his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what, a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.
That's all very well, Random House, but it is called Bog Child. BOG CHILD.

The worst part of all is that the author, Siobhan Dowd, died of breast cancer in 2007, having spent her entire career as a published author fighting the disease since her diagnosis in 2004. She published two novels for young adults, A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery, before her death, and had completed two more. Bog Child was the first of these, and it won the 2009 Carnegie Medal – a bittersweet triumph, as Dowd's previous novels had made the 2007 shortlist and the 2008 longlist.

It is truly appalling to considering the mortally ill Dowd bashing feverishly away at her keyboard – she wrote the novel between January and April 2007 and died in August of that year – to create what turned out to be a great book. And yet it is called Bog Child. Imagine her calling up her agent and saying, "I've had a great idea for a novel – I'm going to call it Bog Child!" Imagine her publisher emailing her going, "So, how are you going on Bog Child?" And her friends – perhaps fellow children's author Meg Rosoff, who has also fought breast cancer – would come over for a cup of tea and say stuff like, "I'm really looking forward to reading Bog Child." Dowd blogged about how near she was to finishing Bog Child, so the worst part is that Dowd herself saw nothing wrong with calling a book Bog Child.

Was it because she was so ill that nobody wanted to break it to Dowd that Bog Child was a terrible name for a book? And after she died, did they want to honour her memory by keeping its ludicrous title?


Ha ha ha :-)
I really like this post. Just so you know.
The name is pretty unappealing. But, you know, bog people are pretty amazing:
I agree the title does leave a little to be desired. But Siobhan Dowd was a great writer - so sad that she had really only just started her writing career when she became ill. Her last book (I think) Solace of the Road is pretty amazing.
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