By Tim Pears
Published Mar 2011
Leonard and Rosemary Cannon summon their middle-aged offspring, along with partners and children, to the family home in the Welsh Marches for the Christmas holiday. As the gathered family settle in to their first Christmas together for some years, the grown siblings – Rodney, Johnny and Gwen – are surprised when they are invited to each put stickers on the furniture and items they wish to inherit from their parents.
Disputed Land is narrated by Leonard and Rosemary’s thirteen-year-old grandson, Theo, who observes how from these innocent beginnings age-old fissures open up in the relationships of those around him. Looking back at this Christmas gathering from his own middle age – a narrator at once nostalgic and naïve – Theo Cannon remembers his imperious grandmother Rosemary, alpha-male uncle Johnny, abominable twin cousins Xan and Baz; he recalls his love for his grandfather Leonard and the burgeoning feelings for his cousin Holly. And he asks himself the question: if a single family cannot solve the problem of what it bequeaths to future generations, then what chance does a whole society have of leaving the world intact?