“I thought I could write my way out of this, but I’m just writing my way further in”
A daringly entertaining debut about the nature of a good life, and a good death
A TIMES BEST FICTION BOOK OF 2017
Dr James Darke has expelled himself from the world. He writes compulsively in his ‘coming of old age’ journal; he eats little, drinks and smokes a lot. Meditating on what he has lost - the loves of his life, both dead and alive - he tries to console himself with the wisdom of the great thinkers and poets, yet finds nothing but disappointment. But cracks of light appear in his carefully managed darkness; he begins to emerge from his self-imposed exile, drawn by the tender, bruised filaments of love for his daughter and grandson.
Rich in ideas and feeling, Rick Gekoski’s debut novel is provocative and timely. With scalding prose, ruthless intelligence and an unforgettably vivid protagonist, it faces some of the greatest, most uncomfortable questions about how we choose to live, and how to die.
“Rick Gekoski’s impressive debut novel … Darke is both a tender and hard-hitting examination of grief and the slow, singular healing process … A brilliantly vivid creation … life-affirming and life-shattering”
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“Stuffed with more wisdom, bile, wit and tenderness than many writers create in a lifetime. In James Darke we have a hero as troubled and eternal as King Lear … And in Rick Gekoski we have a late-flowering genius of a novelist who proves it’s never too late to start a glittering career in fiction”
“Makes for dark, thrilling reading … In James Darke, Gekoski has created a powerful, raging voice”
“Debut delight … Just how this gleefully conjured misanthrope came to wall himself off from the world is the mystery at the heart of a singular first novel that evolves into a moving meditation on loss and redemption”
mail On Sunday
“An immensely enjoyable elegy … done with precision and patience”
Rick Gekoski is a writer, rare-book dealer and academic. He has written several widely praised non-fiction books including Staying Up, Tolkien’s Gown, Outside of a Dog and Lost, Stolen or Shredded. This is his first novel.
In 2005 he was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize, and was then Chair of the judges for the Man Booker International Prize 2011. He teaches creative non-fiction for the Arvon Foundation, and sits on their Development Board. In 2010 he was elected a Trustee of English PEN.