They by Kay Dick / ISBN 9781946022288 / 112-page paperback from McNally Editions
A dark, dystopian portrait of artists struggling to resist violent suppression—“queer, English, a masterpiece.” (Hilton Als)
Set amid the rolling hills and the sandy shingle beaches of coastal Sussex, this disquieting novel depicts an England in which bland conformity is the terrifying order of the day. Violent gangs roam the country destroying art and culture and brutalizing those who resist the purge. As the menacing “They” creep ever closer, a loosely connected band of dissidents attempt to evade the chilling mobs, but it’s only a matter of time until their luck runs out.
Winner of the 1977 South-East Arts Literature Prize, Kay Dick’s They is an uncanny and prescient vision of a world hostile to beauty, emotion, and the individual.
“Kay Dick’s mind is a delicate instrument, aware, sensitive, intelligent, alive to every shade of feeling and sensation.” -- L. P. Hartley
Kay Dick (1915-2001) was the first female director of an English publishing house, promoted to the role at the age of twenty-six and mixing with what she described "a louche set" that included Ivy Compton-Burnett, Stevie Smith, and Muriel Spark. From the 1940s through the '60s, she and her long-term partner, the novelist Kathleen Farrell, were at the heart of the London literary scene. She published seven novels, a study of the commedia dell'arte, and two volumes of literary interviews.