From the award-winning novelist David Whitehouse, hailed by TheNew York Times as “a writer to watch,” a tragicomic adventure about a troubled adolescent boy who escapes his small town in a stolen library-on-wheels.
“An archivist of his mother,” Bobby Nusku spends his nights meticulously cataloging her hair, clothing, and other traces of the life she left behind. By day, Bobby and his best friend Sunny hatch a plan to transform Sunny, limb-by-limb, into a cyborg who could keep Bobby safe from schoolyard torment and from Bobby’s abusive father and his bleach-blonde girlfriend. When Sunny is injured in a freak accident, Bobby is forced to face the world alone.
Out in the neighborhood, Bobby encounters Rosa, a peculiar girl whose disability invites the scorn of bullies. When Bobby takes Rosa home, he meets her mother, Val, a lonely divorcee, whose job is cleaning a mobile library. Bobby and Val come to fill the emotional void in each other’s lives, but their bond also draws unwanted attention. After Val loses her job and Bobby is beaten by his father, they abscond in the sixteen-wheel bookmobile. On the road they are joined by Joe, a mysterious but kindhearted ex-soldier. This “puzzle of people” will travel across England, a picaresque adventure that comes to rival those in the classic books that fill their library-on-wheels.
At once tender, provocative and darkly funny, Mobile Library is a fable about the intrinsic human desire to be loved and understood—and about one boy’s realization that the kinds of adventures found in books can happen in real life. It is the ingenious second novel by a writer whose prose has been hailed as “outlandishly clever” (TheNew York Times) and “deceptively effortless” (TheBoston Globe).
David Whitehouse is the author of Mobile Library and Bed, winner of the 2012 Betty Trask Prize and published in eighteen countries. He has several TV and film projects in development with Film4, Warp, the BBC, and others. In the UK, he writes regularly for the Guardian and The Times and is currently the Editor-at-Large of ShortList magazine.
Praise for the Betty-Trask Prize-winning novel Bed
“Outlandishly clever description… Ingenious one-liners… There’s no question that [David Whitehouse] is a writer to watch.”
– Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A gorgeous, heartrending book, a book full of sentences so apt and well wrought, I sometimes had to read them twice.”
– Henry Alford, San Francisco Chronicle
“Gorgeous writing… A deceptively effortless, haunting first novel.”
– Boston Globe
“Staggering, inventive, and heartbreakingly beautiful.”
– Esquire (UK)
“A totally extraordinary and original novel.”
– Heat (UK)
Praise for Mobile Library
“A great read and a touching and funny exploration of the true meaning of family.”
– S. J. Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep
“A great, tender-hearted story about stories. It’s a book about what books can give us, and how they can add to our adventure – or even take us on one. A lovely read.”
– Matt Haig, author of The Humans
“An agreeably old-fashioned story with likable characters and just enough suspense to keep the pages turning. And who can resist a novel about a mobile library?”
"Billiant. Every page is filled with beautifully crafted sentences in a story replete with pathos and humor."
– Hannah Beckerman, Huffington Post
"Powerful, eccentric . . . Whitehouse’s writing is energetic and pacey, spiked with startling moments of tenderness and superbly controlled. Don’t wait for the inevitable film."
– The Times (London)
"Master storytelling, offering a love-letter to old-fashioned, happy-ever-after children’s novels . . . Remarkable . . . Whitehouse’s tragicomic book is absorbing to its end."
– Sunday Times (UK)
"A beautifully written ode to childhood innocence."
– Marie Claire
"The quirkiest plot we’ve seen for a while . . . making for a magical literary tour that evokes how the books we read as children inspire us. Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure."
"Book lovers will be charmed by Mobile Library . . . It’s a funny coming-of-age tale."
– Good Housekeeping
"Whitehouse cleverly illustrates the way in which lives and books intertwine."
– Daily Mail
"A modern day fairytale . . . a plot that bounds along, dramatic event after dramatic event . . . hints of magic . . . It’s also fun . . . The message becomes clear: stories can save us, unite us, show us other ways of being, offer solace . . . as messages go, it’s a sound one, an example of the open-hearted warmth at the core of this book."
– Financial Times
"Full of heart and hope and absurd bravery, as three lost souls and Bert the dog run away from home in a stolen mobile library. They then set about creating their own kind of family and rewriting the stories of their lives . . . the writer’s charismatic, sparky tale of salvation and the stories within stories brilliantly shows how adventure can overtake and transform the most unlikely of people."
– Sunday Express
"An action packed tale of expanding horizons . . . engagingly offbeat powers of observation . . . the van becomes as much of a vehicle of fantasy as the Little Prince’s biplane or James’s giant peach – both a sanctuary from the outside world and a store of limitless possibilities . . . quietly profound . . . genuinely compelling."