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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  232 ratings  ·  27 reviews
This is the story of Ianto: the feral, inarticulate, inbred, ignoble savage; haunter of mountains, killer of innocents. Ianto is a sheepshagger -- a yokel, a Welsh redneck. But Ianto is also a seer, a visionary -- the genius loci -- who comprehends nature with a Blakean intensity, and is at one with the world he lives in: the moss and lichen, the lamb and the raven, the su ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2002 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2001)
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Books Set in Wales
48th out of 187 books — 119 voters
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14th out of 129 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

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This novel is a real kick in the stomach; bleak, visceral, intense, at once compelling and repulsive. A very uncomfortable book. The dialect is difficult to follow and the language very strong throughout. The violence is intermittent, very graphic and stomach churning. Trainspotting without the humour, although there are some funny and tragi-comic moments.
It is set in Wales and is the story of Ianto, a young man who has been brought up by his grandmother, but who has lost his birthright; an old
I'll confess up front: I haven't read the whole of this. I skimmed it. It's disturbing and upsetting, and not something I want to be reading. Since I'm not likely to write about it in my essay, that's okay.

I do want to say some things about it, though. It's very powerful, and though I agree with one of the other reviewers that the descriptions of landscapes and such sometimes tip into being overdone, for the most part they're so amazingly rich and right on the nose.

The one reason I might end up
J.A. Callan
The last fifty pages of this were disturbing, to say the least. Almost vomit inducing, but very well written nonetheless. What hampers Sheepshagger is Griffiths's highly meticulous, verbose and pretentious descriptions of the natural landscape. Reading this became a chore at some stages, and I suspected that the author might be trying too hard to impress, or was just a tad self-conscious. It was very frustrating reading, and it wasn't uncommon for me to skip a few lines every now and then. Over ...more
Joey H.
This was the first book that I read because of Whichbook, a wonderful UK reader's advisory website. It was more or less what I expected because of the selections I made on Whichbook. It was appalling and disgusting and poetic all at the same time. Be warned: it is not for the squeamish. In fact, it might not even be for the sane. If you can make it past the part with the sheep and the raven and the toddler towards the beginning, chances are you can make it through the book without vomiting. I li ...more
Sep 06, 2008 Priya rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my online friends, Liverpool fans (after watching yet another underwhelming performance)
Welsh people running amok, with the help of jump cut scenes and cool dialects. The main guy shares his name with a character in Torchwood. Bloody miserable all around and yet very readable, especially if you're already feeling despondent and want a reason to feel worse.
Highly recommended to be read with a glass of strong alcohol by your side and, ideally, on a hot summer day.
Fia Eamónn Wåhlin
An Amazing novel about a boy Ianto who is robbed of his family and country left broken, alone and disturbed.
it is not a happy book but oh my goodness, it is quite brilliant.
This one brings out the Welsh in me. Sheepshagger is the derogatory English term for the Welsh. And, after reading this novel, I need to make sure I don't come into contact with any lads with plummy English accent or wearing All England t-shirts any time soon. At the center of this story is Ianto and his rage at the loss of his home to the English tourists who continue to buy up the Welsh country side. But Ianto's homelessness at the hand of the English goes deeper for he has been make to feel l ...more
It's a pity Niall Griffiths doesn't have a larger amount of followers, but then again -I don't think he gives a shit. He's the type of author who writes for himself and if anyone likes it then that's great and if they don't well that's great too. This book is haunting, crude, and unmeasurably beautiful in the way that it is conveyed. His prose is both sharp and poetic, switching between 3rd person omniscient to first person.

"And I like it when I look in the mirror of a lake and see the ends of m
Roger Boyle
I hugely enjoyed this. it's exceptionally well written and far form obvious.

To what extent I was coloured by recognising so many of the places he mentions, and perhaps rather more of the people than I would like to admit, is uncertain - perhaps the impartial reader would find it less enthralling.

He captures wasted young years and behaviour very well - so much that you can begin to sympathise with their terrible behaviour. the poignant history of Wales also emerges, albeit obliquely.

I know why he
Paul Blakemore
Whilst I've no doubt that is a worthy literary book, I can't say I enjoyed it on any level. It's just too graphic, too bleak, too upsetting.

It describes the utter depravity of man and the basic savagery of nature in a unsettling variety of styles: when it is not bring empirically precise about the hideous violence in the book, it is being fiercely poetic about the wilderness of the Welsh countryside. And for me, the bizarre Romanticism that runs through the book seems slightly overwrought.

The e
Michael Jones
Poor little Ianto, like. This is right up there on my list of the best books I've read; it is dark - very, very dark. The sections of dialogue provide some good laughs and everything in between is...well, his writing makes the characters and events seem so real that I'm starting to wonder how much of it is actually made up! Sobering stuff.

If you like Irvine Welsh, I think you'll like Niall Griffiths. I've already ordered Grits - can't wait.
Paperback Percy London
Oct 15, 2010 Paperback Percy London rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angela
Recommended to Paperback Percy by: Kirsten
Hmm. Not sure what to make of this one. Lots of drink, drugs and violence all set in Wales against the backdrop of English yuppies buying up cottages. Boy, aren't you embarrassed to be English sometimes.

Anyway, this one isn't gonna get featured at some white, poncey book group. If you like your literature a bit rough and your characters a bit twisted and down to earth...

Great descriptions of the Welsh landscape and weather.
Janine Southard
I'm on a Welsh literature kick right now, and I've adored Griffiths' short stories. But I had too much trouble with the format of this book.

Chapter 1: All dialogue. (Could be cool, but I can't figure out how many people are speaking.)
Chapter 2: Entirely in italics.
Chapter 3: See chapter 1.
Chapter 4: I gave up. Much sadness ensued.

Not rated because it might be good if you can read it. Or it might not. I really have no clue.
Long lyrical passages which, although sometimes overwrought, capture the mid / west-Wales environment perfectly. Bursts of razor sharp vernacular dialogue. On Wales, this novel is near-perfect. But the drawing of the central character seems simplistic, psychologically. It's a fun read but not a lot of nuance, in the end.
Sep 16, 2007 Anja rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Ianto is a haunting protagonist and a character that has stayed with me ever since I first read Sheepshagger a few years ago. Griffith's writing in this novel is nothing short of amazing, I was torn between disgust and an almost overwhelming love through the entire novel.
Maybe a little disturbing for some readers, but what a picture of Wales. Perhaps not a picture of Wales, and in particular Aberystwyth that I have any experience of, but a valid one none the less.
My love for Welsh literature just grows and grows.
The book is an obvious work of genius but it's hard going. It's gritty, really gritty. And perhaps slightly creepy. If you want to be made uncomfortable for 98% of the book this one is for you. Otherwise put it down and walk away slowly.
Ana Rose
A hard read, it was a bit like homework reading it, I enjoyed it more as it went on. Being from the same area of Wales i found the portrayal of the welsh party scene interesting. I didn't feel like there was much characters development .
Not an easy book to read, Griffiths doesn't pull any punches either in his descriptions or in his use of language. Dark, bleak, visceral. Recommended, but don't expect an easy ride.
Sep 19, 2007 Meri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who thought trainspotting was intense
It helps to know a bit about Welsh opinion on Margaret Thatcher before you read this. An outstanding work on a lost generation, macabre, twisted, disturbing, magnificent.
my love for all things wales started here with niall griffiths. about a country lad fighting back against modernity. guess who wins?
Emma Mccourt
A brilliant read, though very disturbing at times the story is extremely captivating and I couldn't put it down
Anne Scawthorn
A very bleak tale of an extremely damaged person. Not an easy read. In the Trainspotting genre.
Karu kuvaus miehestä, jolle elämällä ei ollut mitään annettavaa.
Ianto's character moved me profoundly- a heartbreaking tale
ho hum - esp. by comparison to the author's "Grits".
Daniel marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2015
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“Ianto lying on his back in the bog. Snake-silent and lizard-still.” 1 likes
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