Tomato Cain: And Other Stories by Nigel Kneale with an introduction by Mark Gatiss
Trade Paperback – Comma Press – Jan 2023 – 306 pages
Originally published in 1949, Tomato Cain is the sole collection of short fiction by master screenwriter Nigel Kneale. Drawing on his experiences of growing up on the Isle of Man, these stories bustle with a menagerie of remarkable characters – from the taxidermist who spends his evenings hunting frogs, to the farmhand who’s followed around all day by an injured, one-eyed duch, to the retired army mechanic haunted by a strange encounter in the desert. Local rivalries are drawn in miniature but acquire epic proportions, while life on the island – a place that still trades in mythology and superstition – struggles to adjust to modernity.
Teetering between well-lit realism and the kind of eerie twilight that would become Kneale’s signature mode, this collection stands at a point in his career where he might have gone in any direction. Garlanded with praise and awards on publication, yet out of print for decades, this forgotten masterpiece can now be enjoyed once more, in a comprehensive edition that unites stories from both in UK and US editions, along with three previously uncollected gems.