• Colin

Announcing the first novel to describe adoption from a would-be adoptive father’s perspective…

Approval by John D. Rutter (Saraband, September)


Winner, Northbound prize


In this powerful debut, a man’s life is interrogated as part of the process to be approved to adopt a child, revealing shocking secrets…

Approval follows would-be parents David and Cici through a series of forays into their past as they try to become approved as adopters following many years of disappointment. Told in episodes, David’s story builds a picture of hope and fear as he is put under intense and often intrusive scrutiny in a battle against faceless bureaucracy.


From family background and early experiences to adult relationship history, David is forced to dig up incidents of violence and drama, all in the hope of being approved by an adoption authority.


Tackling the potentially painful and lonely journey of trying to embark on family life, this brave novel is viewed from a perspective rarely explored in fiction – a man’s response to involuntary childlessness. Raising questions about how much intervention and judgement is necessary for the state to ascertain fitness to parent, Approval ultimately leaves the reader to decide whether or not they approve.


The book was written at a time where there were 70,000+ children in care in the UK (which increase every year).


‘John Rutter’s Approval is many things at once. A powerful meditation on judgement. A transfixing fable of a Kafka-esque application process. A complex tragedy about fatherhood. But it’s also a simple, affecting and beautifully wrought story of one couple’s journey towards what they most desire – a child – and the cost of reaching out for one. A hugely promising debut.’ Rodge Glass


Online event! Hear John D Rutter speak with fellow Northbound award winners on 26 August – enrol for free here!

John D Rutter is a short story writer and academic who teaches, edits and writes about short stories – the subject of his PhD from Edge Hill University. His stories have been published in anthologies and journals. Approval is his first novel. John lives in Lancashire with his wife, Lin.

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