Cull by Tanvir Bush @tanvirnaomi #BookReview #BlogTour


In a near-future Britain, the furore over the welfare state has reached fever pitch. A combination of state propaganda and aggressive austerity has divided the nation along poisonous lines: on one side, so-called freeloaders, crips and fakes; on the other, The Hard Working British Taxpayer. 
The government has introduced the Care and Protect Bill, ostensibly to relieve the economic burden of the disabled, elderly and vulnerable on society by opening residential care homes where they will be looked after by medical professionals. 
But Alex – visually impaired and categorised as one of the dole-scrounging underclass – has stumbled across a troubling link between the disappearance of several homeless people and the extension of Grassybanks, her local care home... Helped by her guide dog, Chris, this discovery sets her on a path that leads all the way to the corrupt heart of government. 

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Cull by Tanvir Bush today. My grateful thanks to the author, Unbound and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the novel.

In November 2016, the UN published a report citing 'grave and systematic violations of the rights of disabled people in the UK. In August 2017, the UN reiterated the findings of the report. Disabled and vulnerable people the length and breadth of the country have their own stories to tell of the devastating impact of this Government's austerity policies, including my friend, Bilge who experienced this cruel, messed up system first-hand, on the day she was told she had breast cancer.
Cull is set in a near-future where the policies and buzzwords we have become used to; 'hard-working taxpayers', 'scroungers', 'Making Work Pay' have been taken to the next level with the Care and Protect Bill. The most vulnerable members of society - the disabled, ill and elderly are now seen as a burden, freeloaders who cost the state money and any rights they once had are being stripped away. Most public transport has scrapped special seating for what are now known as crips - 'If you can't fit, you can't sit' and new health and safety legislation means service dogs are prohibited from all restaurants, caf├ęs and cafeterias (including schools, universities and work-based cafeterias) unless approved by management. In short, Britain has become an even worse place for the disabled than it is now, with hate crimes becoming an even more regular occurrence, as people become emboldened by a Government whose 'Believe in Better' campaign includes an 'It's Curtains for Skivers!' policy which means nobody dares risk hanging curtains lest they invite the attentions of a window smashing mob.
Alex is partially sighted and as such has been forced to accept a part-time placement working for a local newspaper. It doesn't pay and she is struggling to make ends meet but working more hours would result in her losing her Housing Entitlement. When she and her guide dog, Chris come across a painfully thin dog belonging to a local homeless man, she discovers a new scheme ostensibly to help the long-term homeless but which seems to involve their disappearance and before long her investigation leads her into terrible danger.
Most of the story is told from Alex's perspective and she is a resolute, principled woman albeit not without her flaws, particularly when it comes to her heavy drinking. She is understandably frustrated by a system which is designed to keep her in her place as a needy burden on society instead of allowing her to utilise her extensive reporting experience. Throughout the book she is aided and abetted by Chris and some chapters are delightfully written from his point of view as we are given a glimpse into his world of exciting smells and vibrations. These scenes are beautifully described and are a believable suggestion of what a guide dog might think as he switches between his on duty working role and the times when he is off harness and allowed to enjoy exploring the wonderful scents around him. The bond between him and Alex is obvious and when his doggy senses pick up danger, his fears for her are almost palpable.
Other parts of the book are seen from various characters' perspectives and often give a chilling insight into the full scale of the horrors being perpetrated. Andre is a particularly nasty piece of work but is just a typical foot soldier of the more calculated plotters whose violence is secretive but far more deadly. As the novel progresses, the tension becomes nailbiting as the truth between what is really happening at Grassybanks care home is finally revealed. It's terrifying but having seen the already dehumanising results of oppressive austerity policies and the knowledge of how eugenics and euthanasia have been used so terribly effectively in the past means it's all just too believable.
Cull is a brilliantly sharp satire but it makes for a deeply uncomfortable read that will rightly cause its readers to question just what we have already accepted and how much further society would permit a Government to go under the guise of protecting the rights of tax-payers. The story itself is engrossing; by turns witty, shocking and heartbreaking and is an essential read which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Cull is published by Unbound and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK
Hive
Waterstones
WHSmith

Don't forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour, details are below.


About the Author


Dr Tanvir Bush is a novelist, photographer and filmmaker. Born in London, she lived and worked in Lusaka, Zambia, where she set up the Willie Mwale Film Foundation, working with minority communities and people affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Her feature documentary Choka! – Get Lost! was nominated for the Pare Lorenz Award for social activism in film in 2001. She returned to UK to study and write her first novel, Witch Girl, which was published in 2015. She is an associate lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University. She is based in Wiltshire with her guide dog and research assistant, Grace. 

Comments

  1. So pleased that you enjoyed this Karen. Thanks for the fabulous blog tour support x

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