Skip to main content
A Magazine for

Helen Mort Black Car Burning

Helen Mort is best known as an acclaimed poet, who had won the Foyles Young Poet of the Year Award five times by the age of 18.

Climbers will recognise the title of Mort's first novel as a notoriously difficult climb on Stanage Edge, but the book also explores polyamory and genetic trauma theory, the scars that a horrific event like the Hillsborough disaster leaves on generation and places.

The book goes beyond being a love song to Sheffield by making the city a character. The narrative is punctuated by vignettes of Sheffield areas and climbing spots personified. Hillsborough tells us, "I speak in blown litter by the tram stop," and Stanage says, "I'm strewn with beads, cast-offs from a giant stone necklace."

This original and absorbing way of structuring a novel is the beauty of a poet writing prose. You will find yourself looking up images of places to put a face to a voice.

Black Car Burning is the quickest way to fall in love with the city all over again.

Related articles