As heard on BBC Radio 4's Front Row: the radical dystopian classic, lost for forty years: in a nightmarish Britain, THEY are coming closer.
'A creepily prescient tale ... Insidiously horrifying!' Margaret Atwood
'A masterpiece of creeping dread.' Emily St. John Mandel
This is Britain: but not as we know it.
THEY begin with a dead dog, shadowy footsteps, confiscated books. Soon the National Gallery is purged; eerie towers survey the coast; mobs stalk the countryside destroying artworks - and those who resist.
THEY capture dissidents - writers, painters, musicians, even the unmarried and childless - in military sweeps, 'curing' these subversives of individual identity.
Survivors gather together as cultural refugees, preserving their crafts, creating, loving and remembering. But THEY make it easier to forget ...
Lost for half a century, newly introduced by Carmen Maria Machado, Kay Dick's They (1977) is a rediscovered dystopian masterpiece of art under attack: a cry from the soul against censorship, a radical celebration of non-conformity - and a warning.
'Delicious and sexy and downright chilling ... Read it!' Rumaan Alam
'Crystalline ... The signature of an enchantress.' Edna O'Brien
'I'm pretty wild about this paranoid, terrifying 1977 masterpiece.' Lauren Groff
'Deft, dread filled, hypnotic and hopeful. Completely got under my skin.' Kiran Millwood Hargrave
'Lush, hypnotic, compulsive ... A reminder of where groupthink leads.' Eimear McBride
'A masterwork of English pastoral horror: eerie and bewitching.' Claire-Louise Bennett
'A short shocker: creepy, disturbing, distressing and highly enjoyable.' Andrew Hunter Murray
'Prophetic, chilling and a reminder from the past that we have everything to fight for in the future.' Salena Godden
A creepily prescient tale in which anonymous mobs target artists for the crime of individual vision. Insidiously horrifying! -- Margaret Atwood
Delicious and sexy and downright chilling ... Read it! -- Rumaan Alam
In quick crystalline prose, with its over-arching dread, They is the signature of an enchantress. -- Edna O'Brien
A succession of nine quietly horrifying stories from a dystopian, pastorally radiant England ... Confident strangeness ... Supple with dread ... It has taken global misfortune and some sliding toward the abyss for They to speak fully and be heard. - New Yorker
A masterpiece of creeping dread. -- Emily St. John Mandel
Deft, dread-filled, hypnotic and hopeful. Completely got under my skin. -- Kiran Millwood Hargrave
A masterwork of English pastoral horror, as eerie and bewitching as the heavy head of a dark rose about to drop from its barbed stem. -- Claire-Louise Bennett
Lush, strange, hypnotic, compulsive ... A reminder of where groupthink leads and the courage required to hold out. -- Eimear McBride
A short shocker: creepy, disturbing, distressing and highly enjoyable. -- Andrew Hunter Murray
I prefer to think of They as inimitable: innovative in structure but stylistically old-fashioned; futuristic yet nostalgic; an apocalyptic vision transcribed with childlike innocence ... Passionate and polemical ... Its menacing tale of persecuted artists and intellectuals as resonant today as it ever was. -- Blake Morrison - LRB
A fascinating and rare book: prophetic and chilling and a bold reminder from the past that we have everything to fight for in the future. -- Salena Godden
I'm pretty wild about this paranoid, terrifying 1977 masterpiece. -- Lauren Groff
Profoundly unsettling ... A radical backdrop for endless questions about art. -- Carmen Maria Machado
A lost dystopian masterpiece ... A plea for individual and intellectual freedoms by a woman artist who refused to refused to live by many of society's rules. - Paris Review
[A] master of the uncanny ... Dick's lush, transcendent nature writing contrasts with her spare, elliptical dialogue ... For They is a study of fear. Its disconcerting power lies in its dream logic and elisions - the unexplained background, the offstage violence. - Spectator
The 'creepily prescient' (Margaret Atwood) dystopian 'masterpiece' (Emily St. John Mandel), lost for forty years: in a nightmarish Britain, THEY are coming closer.
About the Author
Kay Dick was a novelist, writer and editor. Born in London in 1915, she worked at Foyles bookshop before becoming the first female director of an English publishing house aged 26, editing authors such as George Orwell. She later reviewed for the New Statesman, Times, Spectator and Punch, as well as editing The Windmill under a pseudonym. Dick wrote five novels including They (1977), which won the South-East Arts Literature Prize but swiftly went out of print until it was recently rediscovered. She also wrote three biographies, edited anthologies and campaigned for Public Lending Right. For twenty-two years Dick lived with her long-term partner, the novelist Kathleen Farrell, in Hampstead. She later moved to Brighton, where she continued to champion fellow writers until her death in 2001.