In Melvin Burgess’s 1993 novel The Baby and Fly Pie, the text is focalized through the first-person narrative of the central character Davey (nicknamed Fly). Fly is a ‘rubbish Kid’ (14) living and working alongside his sister Jane on a municipal dump in a dystopian urban setting (London). These children work for a group of women, ironically termed ‘Mothers’, who tightly control the children, forcing them to live in squalor and selling on for profit the items they scavenge. In their turn the Mothers are controlled by gang-masters who ‘police’ the streets and businesses and work with ‘Death Squads’ (6) to ‘cleanse’ the city of homeless kids and other ‘undesirables’. The narrative follows Fly, Jane and their friend Sham as they flee through the city after finding a kidnapped baby hidden within the dump with a ransom of £17 million attached to it. As the narrative progresses, Fly becomes a novel with competing but interlinked environments at its heart: the dump, the wider city, the squatter camp, the countryside, all of which fundamentally affect both action and character. As such, a reading of this text through the lens of the critical discourse of ecocriticism can produce an enhanced appreciation of the novel and raises important questions concerning nature and culture, the animal and the human, the urban and the rural. In order to examine these questions, I will place Fly alongside Burgess’s later novel, The Earth Giant (1995), which similarly interrogates the human experience of the built and the natural environments, but which also foregrounds an ecocentricity which privileges neither human nor non-human.
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