WINNER OF WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR PRIZE 2012 WINNER OF THE 2012 WRITERS GUILD AWARD FOR 'BEST FICTION BOOK' LONG-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2011 SHORT-LISTED FOR THE 2011 COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD SHORT-LISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2012 SHORT-LISTED FOR THE AUTHORS CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2012
Set during Ceausescu's last hundred days in power, Patrick McGuinness's accomplished debut novel explores a world of danger, repression and corruption.
When our narrator, a young English student with a damaged past and an uncertain future, arrives in Bucharest he finds himself in a job he never applied for. With duties that become increasingly ambiguous and precarious, he soon finds himself uncomfortably and often dangerously close to the eye of the storm. He learns, as he goes, the uncertainty of friendships in a surveillance society: friendships that are compromised and riddled with danger and duplicity. He encounters dissidents, party apparatchiks, black-markerteers, diplomats, spies and ordinary Romanians, their lives all intertwined against a background of severe poverty and repression as Europe's most paranoid regime plays out its bloody endgame.
The socialist state is in stasis, the shops are empty and old Bucharest vanishes daily under the onslaught of Ceausescu s demolition gangs. Paranoia is pervasive and secret service men lurk in the shadows.
"engaging" - The New York Times Book Review
"stunning" - The Times
"an assured performance" - The Literary Review
"Sinister, comic and lyrical, it vividly captures the end of a long nightmare" - i-newspaper
"...a coming-of-age story with a vivid historical backdrop..." - Washington Post
"It's a brilliant first novel set in 1989, in the writhing demise of communist Bucharest - dark, immaculately written, bitterly lucid and very gripping." - James Wood - New Statesman Book of the Year
"..engrossing debut novel..I defy anyone not to revel in 350-odd pages of it at least" --Time Out Magazine ****