Rocks in the Belly is about a precocious eight-year-old boy and the volatile adult he becomes. During childhood his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son. Jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, an amiable child she can’t help bonding with. Until the bond triggers an event that profoundly changes everyone. Especially Robert. At 28 the son returns to face his mother. He hasn’t forgiven her for what happened to Robert. But now she’s the dependent one and he the dominant force - a power he can’t help but abuse.
Written in two startlingly original voices, Rocks in the Belly is about the destruction we wreak on one another in the pursuit of our own happiness; how we never escape our upbringing; and a stark reminder that the most dangerous place for a child is within the family. A compelling, powerful, and yet beautiful and funny novel.
"Bauer ruthlessly pokes dark and unpleasant psychological recesses and does not shy away from discomfort. Guilt, shame, malice, anger and neglect are the pressure points here. This makes for gripping reading. Each voice - the child and the man - is compelling and complex. Bauer perfectly catches the uncertainty of a deeply insecure child who does not want to share his mother's love, and neatly displays the ambiguity of the situation ... This is a largely tragic book, but it speaks in a mesmerising voice a brutal truth about the intensity of family relationships." (The Sunday Telegraph)
“John Bauer excels in this exploration of the mind of a child who, however intelligent and funny he may be, is nonetheless deeply unsure of himself. A notable first novel." (J.M. Coetzee)
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