In April 1916, shortly before the commencement of the Battle of the Somme, a fire started in a vast munitions works located in the Kentish marshes. The resulting series of explosions killed 108 people and injured many more.
In a brilliant piece of storytelling, Brian Dillon recreates the events of that terrible day – and, in so doing, sheds a fresh and unexpected light on the British home front in the Great War. He offers a chilling natural history of explosives and their effects on the earth, on buildings, and on human and animal bodies. And he evokes with vivid clarity one of Britain’s strangest and most remarkable landscapes – where he has been a habitual explorer for many years. The Great Explosion is a profound work of narrative, exploration and inquiry from one of our most brilliant writers.
‘The Great Explosion is exhilarating and moving and lyrical. It is a quiet evisceration of a landscape through the discovery of a lost history of destructiveness, a meditation on Englishness, an autobiography, a mapping of absences. I loved it.’ Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes
”What a fascinating, unclassifiable, brilliant book, confirming Brian Dillon’s reputation as one of our most innovative and elegant non-fictioneers. No one else could have written it.’ Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways
‘Forensic, fascinating, endlessly interesting’ Philip Hoare, Samuel Johnson Prize-winning author of Leviathan and The Sea Inside