The main theme of the book is death - death of a father, of an identity, of a sense of self, of a language. In tandem with that, The Nessman is also about the agent of Colin’s personal destruction - alcohol.
Yet the book is not a depressing read. It is hilariously funny, brilliantly observed and written with an astonishing ear for dialogue and eye for character. Colin’s knowledge of himself as he spirals towards destruction is unsparing and unsentimental. The result is an extraordinary and moving portrayal of a people and a culture.
This is the first book in English of the people of Ness and it is one of the first novels in which a Gaelic writer has, with utter confidence, made English his own language too.