This novel, a story about a footballer coming to terms with being gay, is gripping, well-written and movingby Sameer Rahim / May 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
A Natural by Ross Raisin (Jonathan Cape, £14.99)
After writing two excellent novels, the Yorkshire-born writer Ross Raisin struggled to get A Natural published. Apparently publishers weren’t keen on a story about a footballer coming to terms with being gay. Raisin was told that women readers didn’t like football, and male readers didn’t want to read about gay men. Thankfully, Raisin has found a home for this gripping, well-written and moving story, which should interest anyone curious about enclosed worlds and hidden lives.
Tom Pearman, a talented young winger, hasn’t quite made the grade in the Premier League and joins “Town,” a small club far from home. The dressing room is a nightmare of machismo, insecurity and bullying. Tom survives by keeping shtum. His manager says when he first saw him, he thought he was “A natural. And I’m going to turn him into a man.” Exactly what “a natural” means—in terms of football ability, or fitting in, or sexuality—is the question that animates the novel. When Tom eventually falls for the groundsman, an ex-player, the dramatic stakes are starkly raised.