The Electric Michelangelo
Harper Perennial, 2004
Another rewarding Man Booker surprise – not a winner, but a finalist, and another stretch of subject boundaries into an area I would normally not follow.
The book begins describing a boy growing up in a seaside town in the north of England during and after WWI. A chance encounter leads him to apprentice with a tattoo artist, and when after several years of working together the older man dies he decides to leave things behind him and start over in New York.
Once in New York he establishes himself and blends into the composite of Coney Island. After a while one of his neighbors comes for a tattoo, and they develop an awkward relationship until tragedy strikes and they each have to find their own path to recovery.