Published in 1984, The Wasp Factory holds an incredible relevance to this day in its vividly intriguing portrayal of themes such as gender, depravity and family. 

I first encountered this novel last summer in preparation for learning about the Gothic as a genre, and there was no better introduction than Banks’ striking prose. Enveloped in the whirlwind of the protagonist - Frank’s - first-person perspective into his disturbing psyche, I couldn’t drop the book until I finished it within a weekend. 

I was, however, surprised to find the story was written to be a science fiction story... so what makes it gothic? 

The Gothic as a genre in literature originated in the mid 18th century as a duality to Neoclassicism, characterised by excess, convolution and the uncivilised. Key motifs include (but are far from limited to) a blend of horror and terror, the liminal, the abhuman, the other, the uncanny, the taboo and the supernatural. 

Set on an isolated island with a sexually ambiguous narrator - raised by a manipulative father – whose life revolves around depraved rituals and generally psychopathic doings, Banks creates a disturbingly relatable voice which undeniably compels the reader to consider the darkness within themselves and what the inner thoughts concealed by others hold.