The Dig is a searing novel. Built of the interlocking fates of a badger-baiter and a farmer struggling through lambing season, the story unfolds in a stark rural setting where man, animal, and land are at loggerheads. Jones writes of isolation and loss with resonant carefulness, and about the simple rawness of animal existence with an unblinking eye. There is no bucolic pastoral here. This is pure, pared-down rural realism, crackling with compressed energy, from a writer of uncommon gifts.