Nine-year-old “Skid” Beaumont’s family is stuck in the mud. Following his father’s decision to relocate and build a new home, based on a drunken vision that New Orleans would rapidly expand eastwards into the wetlands as a result of the Seventies oil boom, Skid and his brothers grow up in a swampy area of Louisiana. But the constructions stop short, the dream fizzles out, and the Beaumonts find themselves sinking in a soggy corner of 1980s Cold War America. As things on the home front get more complicated, Skid learns of his mother’s alleged magic powers and vaguely remembers some eerie stories surrounding his elder brother Frico.
These, as well as early events that Skid saw with his own eyes, convince him that Frico has a gift to fix things by simply sketching them. For the next few years, Skid’s self-appointed mission to convince his brother to join him in his lofty plan to change their family’s luck and the world they live in will lead to even more mystery and high drama in the swamp. Atmospheric, uplifting and deeply moving, Sketcher – Roland Watson-Grant’s stunning debut – is a novel about the beauty of life no matter how broken it is.
Part rambunctious tale of adolescence and part voodoo ghost story … a richly textured evocation of life in the Bayou, lush with fruitful descriptions and the tall tales of folklore.
The Literary Review
A funny, sad, atmospheric novel … Captivating and characterful.
The Sunday Times
If the broken parts of life cannot always be mended, most of it is still more than good enough, in these rollicking chronicles from the sticky side of Louisiana.
The book is amusing, full of life's drama and has engaging characters that are hard to leave behind. However, what the reader is left with is the thought that, however poor life may be, something magical can always be found. Roland Watson-Grant is an author to watch.
This beautifully written and rather eccentric tale is narrated by nine-year-old 'Skid' Beaumont, a natural raconteur and the youngest of four brothers growing up in the swamps to the east of New Orleans in the 1980s.
The Illawarra Mercury
Watson-Grant plunges us into a world of misery and magic. Watson-Grant pulls off a rhythmical narrative voice, emulating the 'New O'lins' dialect.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Well, hats off to Alma Books, because they've come up with a novel for teenagers which is so surprising, so defiantly odd and so linguistically quirky, it goes against every trend.
What contemporary Jamaican fiction should we be reading? … Jamaican – there’s Roland Watson-Grant.
Marlon James, author of the Man Booker winning A Brief History of Seven Killings in Vogue
You can almost feel the swamp sweating off the page throughout Grant's brilliantly atmospheric and occasionally grotesque coming-of-age tale.
Nic Bottomley (Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights Bookshop)
Bath Life Magazine
Sketcher by Roland Watson-Grant is both funny and moving … Relating gunfights, alligator attacks and black magic, Skid's distinctive Southern voice is reminiscent of Tom Sawyer or Scout Finch.
Sketcher is a beautiful debut novel – magical, funny, sad. Skid's voice is true. The novel is written in Louisiana dialect and the author is skilled at subtlety maturing the narrative voice as Skid grows from boy to young man.
The Regency Magazine
A child's view on getting the most out of a broken life. This heart-warming story is all you need to make you smile.
Teen Titles Magazine
A witty Mark Twain-like diversion that tells of superstition and mojo-conjuring among the swamp folk of the Bayou during the Reaganite 1980s.
A wonderfully joyous, eccentric first novel.
Funny, heartfelt and beguiling debut … The core strength of Sketcher is Skid's first-person account, told in colloquial Louisiana dialect. He is a funny and sharp observer, a bit of a wise-arse – part Scout Finch, part Huck Finn, part Bart Simpson – yet capable of stunning lyricism