A startling and intimate debut novel which explores masculinity, family, disability and love as an estranged father and son struggle to reconcile
Question: What’s worse than being in a wheelchair?
Answer: Being a fuck-up in a wheelchair.
After a car accident Jarred discovers he’ll never walk again. Confined to a ‘giant roller-skate’, he finds himself with neither money nor job. Worse still, he’s forced to live back home with the father he hasn’t spoken to in ten years.
Add in a shoplifting habit, an addiction to painkillers and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he’s an idiot, it’s a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control?
As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past – the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he’s caused himself and others – and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don’t always have to stay broken after all.
The Coward is about hurt and forgiveness. It’s about how the world treats disabled people. And it’s about how we write and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves about our lives – and try to find a happy ending.
“Sings from its first lines … unbearably poignant … a truly uplifting emotional journey; a tender, wise, brutally funny novel”
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“Written with insight and savage wit … it is uplifting because McGinnis is a realist who never tries to sweeten the bitter experience of learning to navigate life in a wheelchair. His characters are vivid and impossible to forget, and he has an underlying optimism about the various ways in which muddled lives shake down and settle into something better”
“This beautiful book is a testament to the way people can, in spite of everything, reforge shattered emotional bonds and repair seemingly doomed relationships. You won’t find a more uplifting read in these dark times”
“Laceratingly funny, beautiful and true, true, true – right into its very human and very twisted heart. Read this book”
“Visceral yet immensely witty … The sections describing the immediate aftermath of the crash are incredibly powerful”
Jarred McGinnis is the co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in literary journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. He is an Associate Writer for Spread the Word, a fellow of the London Library’s Emerging Writer Programme and a Writer-in-Residence for First Story. He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but mostly he inspires the able-bodied by using public transport and taking his daughters to the playground.