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Underneath by Martin Hayes

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Martin Hayes’ third Smokestack collection is a hymn to the invisible workers everywhere who hold up the sky – specifically the couriers and support staff who have been working 15-hours a day to distribute PPE and test kits up and down the UK. Underneath is a brutally funny collection about work, comradeship and community, the deals we do to stay human in the dehumanising conditions of the twenty-first century, the years we exchange for a fridge full of food, a well-stocked medicine cabinet and the chance to swim in the sea once a year. It’s a book about work-mates and neighbours, warnings and redundancies, managers with their ‘Moray eel smiles’ and the alien rich who think that the world belongs to them. Martin Hayes gives a voice to everyone at the bottom of the pile, below the salt, underneath, defiantly asserting that we are not defeated – at least not just yet.

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