Ireland, 1971, John Egan is a misfit, ‘a twelve year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant who insists on the ridiculous truth’. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of Records and faith in his ability to detect when adults are lying, John remains hopeful despite the unfortunate cards life deals him.
During one year in John’s life, from his voice breaking, through the breaking-up of his home life, to the near collapse of his sanity, we witness the gradual unsticking of John’s mind, and the trouble that creates for him and his family.
“Expressively communicating the stagnant mood of 1970s Ireland, Hyland’s disquieting novel is also feverishly alert to childhood’s bewilderments and sensitively articulates the strange osmosis between the mundane and the otherwordly that enriches the narrator’s wonky perceptions of humanity.”
the Sunday Times
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“This is a gripping read. Hyland has a unique and compelling style.”
“It is difficult to combine realism and surreal interludes in a single narrative structure, but Hyland manages this effortlessly in what is only her second novel…The most contemporary writer she most brings to mind is AL Kennedy. They share a fondness for quietly, relentlessly shocking the reader….a fictional, exaggerated, but ultimately winning version of every adolescent who ever hesitated nervously on the threshold of the adult world.”
the Daily Telegraph
M.J Hyland is an ex-lawyer and the author of three multi-award-winning novels: How the Light Gets In (2004), Carry Me Down (2006) and This is How (2009). Carry Me Down (2006) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won both the Hawthornden Prize and the Encore Prize. M.J Hyland has twice been longlisted for the Orange Prize (2004 and 2009), the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (2004 and 2007) and This is How (2009) was also longlisted for the Dublin International IMPAC prize.
M.J Hyland is also a lecturer in Creative Writing in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester where she runs fiction workshops, alongside Martin Amis (2007-2010), Colm Tóibín (2010-2011) and Jeanette Winterson (2013 - ). M.J Hyland also runs regular Fiction Masterclasses in the Guardian Masterclass Programme, and has twice been shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Prize (2011 and 2012). She also publishes in the Guardian ‘How to Write’ series, and has written nonfiction for the Financial Times, Granta, the New Yorker and elsewhere. M.J Hyland is also co-founder of the Hyland & Byrne Editing Firm (see - www.editingfirm & www.mjhyland.com)