Human Terrain

Longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize 2022

Human Terrain. The Army acknowledges, through the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq, that human geography is as important as any satellite map.

Human Terrain deals with female voices and working-class existences, ordinary lives transformed by loss and love. There’s the mother working as cutman for her daughter in the boxing ring; the family who find themselves abandoned at the seaside; the gardener digging for love among the grass cuttings and weeds. Characters standing in a classroom, drinking in a pub, working the fryer in a fish and chip shop, or finding love in an ice warehouse, they all inhabit the collection. Stories full of dark humour and deep tenderness that depict the characters’ struggles to understand their place in the world.

'In Emily Bullock’s mystical collection, loss is evident. Life, thwarted dreams, family and its bonding and breaking, addictions, sins, despair.

These are stories told through beautiful, emotional writing that veers between the mystical and the ordinary, the lyrical and the raw, the profane and the infinite.'

This is definitely one of the finest collections of the year and I can’t wait to explore Emily Bullock’s work.

Amalia Gkavea, The Opinionated Reader

'It is a cliche to say that a short story collection covers the whole spectrum of human experience, but Bullock certainly approaches this, offering up tightly constructed narratives that feel entirely real, and are varied enough to display her enormous talent with the written word.'

Ellie Hawkes, Elspells Blog

'Here is a writer who has harnessed, embraced and extended the human spirit in multitude ways, harnessing each story’s energy and going where it might take her.

This is a sparkling collection with humanity at it’s heart. Beautifully balanced and constructed, it is a perfect short story collection.'


'You never quite know what you are going to get going into each story which is a real treat. There is humour, there is heart but there are also threads of real darkness which l loved.'


'Powerful writing, yet beautifully balanced and honed, like a knight’s favourite longsword, this is an outstanding book and well worth reading from cover to cover.'

-Inky Pantry, Kev Milsom

'Perhaps my favourite story in Bullock’s collection is ‘Open House’. In this, Freddie sees that his childhood home is up for sale, and decides to pay a visit during the open house, the first time he’s been back to Whitechapel in twenty years. What he finds is an uneasy mixture of the past coming back to him while the present unspools out of his grasp.'

-David's Book World, David Hebblethwaite