A Novel


Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering solace and redemption in the most unexpected places. British comedian Mark Watson’s North American debut humorously and poignantly explores life and death, strangers and friends, heartache and comfort, and whether the choices we don’t make affect us just as powerfully as the ones we do.
  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451606782 | 
  • May 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Eleven includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Late-night radio DJ Xavier Ireland is known throughout London for the poignant advice he gives to restless listeners. But his failure to help in a seemingly inconsequential run-in with a bullied boy sets off a chain of events that affects a cast of interwoven characters, from a bitter journalist to a love-struck barman. Haunted by memories of an accident that led him to leave his friends and family in Melbourne and take on a new identity, Xavier commits to not getting involved in the lives of others, save for his late-night callers. Xavier leads a lonely existence of Scrabble tournaments, avoiding his neighbors, and awkward chats with his co-host Murray, until a chance meeting with a cleaning lady named Pippa sets him on a new path. As Pippa tidies his apartment and brings him back to life, Xavier confronts his past and finds redemption in unexpected places. 


1.    Xavier Ireland’s name is derived from minutiae such as a high-scoring Scrabble word and his street address. Wh see more

About the Author

Mark Watson
Karushi Management

Mark Watson

Mark Watson is one of Britain’s most popular young stand-up comedians. His comedy shows have won, among others, the Daily Telegraph Award, Time Out Best Stand-Up Award, Edinburgh Festival Panel Prize, and best shows at the Adelaide and Sydney Festivals. He has performed at every major international comedy festival and in more than twenty countries. He made comedy history at the Edinburgh Festival by performing for 24 hours, solo and without a break. He is a regular on many British TV shows and has his own highly successful BBC Radio 4 series, Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better. He is the author of the novels Bullet Points and A Light-Hearted Look at Murder, and the non-fiction title Crap at the Environment. Mark Watson lives in London.


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