The Long Take

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The Long Take, or A Way to Lose More Slowly
The Long Take (Robin Robertson).png
First edition cover
AuthorRobin Robertson
Audio read byKerry Shale[1]
Cover artistHoward Maxwell (photo)[2]
Tyler Comrie (design)[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreNarrative poetry
Set inUnited States
Publication date
22 February 2018[3]
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), e-book, audiobook
LC ClassPR6068.O1925 L66 2018b

The Long Take, or A Way to Lose More Slowly,[2] known simply as The Long Take, is a novel in narrative poetry form with noir style by Scottish poet Robin Robertson. It was published in 2018 by Picador. The story-line is set in United States post World War II. Robertson received the Goldsmiths Prize, Walter Scott Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for this work.

Content and publishing[edit]

The 200+ page novel is composed of verse and prose. The protagonist is Walker, who is an allied war veteran who served during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. He was born in Nova Scotia, but has hallucinatory memories and does not want to go back home. He instead goes to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He heads to New York first and happens to meet film noir director Robert Siodmak at a bar. He sees the making of various noir films and this helps in setting timelines within the novel. He works at docks and later moves to Los Angeles and starts writing for a newspaper. His work takes him to San Francisco where he reports on the situation of homeless citizens. Ironically, when he returns to Los Angeles, his neighborhood is being destroyed to make way for new infrastructure.[4] Various other characters in the novel include Billy Idaho, who is a Utah Beach veteran and narrates the history of Los Angeles to Walker. Another veteran Frank, known as "Glassface", was the victim of torture by Nazi Party's Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). Pike is a reporter and his character is used to represent the future youth and internet culture of selfies.[5] The narrative also brings out references to other historical events like Highland Clearances and Trail of Tears.[5]

Before The Long Take, Robertson had published six poetry collections and was the editor for various notable novelists and poets like John Banville, Anne Enright, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Anne Carson and Alice Oswald.[6]

Review and reception[edit]

The Washington Post's Sibbie O'Sullivan calls the novel "a propulsive verbal tour de force" comparing it with works of Homer and T. S. Eliot.[5] John McAuliffe, who teaches poetry at the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing and writing for The Irish Times appreciates the narrative poetry style for "emphasising intensity and tone with its line-breaks and stanzas".[6] Rory Waterman for The Times Literary Supplement calls the novel "immaculately researched in terms of geography, current affairs, and its constant cultural touchstones in the Hollywood films of the time".[7]

The novel won the 2018 Roehampton Poetry Prize, organized by University of Roehampton.[8] It won the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize with Adam Mars-Jones, who chaired the judging committee, calling it "a film noir verse novel full of blinding sunlight and lingering shadows, technically accomplished, formally resourceful and emotionally unsparing".[9] It was shortlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize,[10] and won the 2019 Walter Scott Prize with Robertson becoming the first Scot and first poet to win the award.[11]


  1. ^ "The Long Take by Robin Robertson". Penguin Random House Audio. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. ^ "The Long Take: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize by Robin Robertson". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  3. ^ Banville, John (24 March 2018). "The Long Take by Robin Robertson review – a melancholy love song to America". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b c O'Sullivan, Sibbie (19 November 2018). "Poetry need not be a call to action, but 'The Long Take' is". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b McAuliffe, John (13 October 2018). "The Long Take by Robin Robertson: A bloody and brutal verse novel". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  6. ^ Waterman, Rory (20 September 2018). "Back into slaughter". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Roehampton Poetry Prize". University of Roehampton. 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (14 November 2018). "Robin Robertson wins Goldsmiths prize for innovative fiction with The Long Take". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  9. ^ "From 'Everything Under' To 'Overstory': The 2018 Man Booker Prize Shortlist". National Public Radio. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Robin Robertson wins the tenth Walter Scott Prize". Walter Scott Prize. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.