A gripping novel about a particularly bleak, insidiously unpleasant and all too imaginable day after tomorrow, a thoughtful picture of society in decay in smnall ways. This however is but the backdrop for a touching narrative about complex human relationships and emotional and physical expectations. Patrick Gale’s characters are never less than endearingly human: their frailties are all too recognisable, their anticipations understandable. Though the setting is squalid, hope shines through. And – most of all – Kansas in August balances pathos with laughter.