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The Wild Laughter

Winner of the 2021 Encore Award

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

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About The Book

An exhilarating dark comedy about two brothers confronting their father's fate in contemporary Ireland, from a critically acclaimed Irish author

'Brilliant. A hilarious, poetical black comedy... Do read it.' Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

It's 2008, and the Celtic Tiger has left devastation in its wake. Brothers Hart and Cormac Black are waking up to a very different Ireland – one that widens the chasm between them and brings their beloved father to his knees. Facing a devastating choice that will put their livelihood, even their lives, on the line, the brothers soon learn that their biggest danger comes when there is nothing to lose.

A sharp snapshot of a family and a nation suddenly unmoored, this epic-in-miniature explores cowardice and sacrifice, faith rewarded and abandoned, the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we resist. Hilarious, poignant and utterly fresh, The Wild Laughter cements Caoilinn Hughes' position as one of Ireland's most audacious, nuanced and insightful young writers.

'A grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now... So original and vibrant.' Encore Award Judges

FINALIST FOR THE AN POST IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2020, THE RTÉ RADIO 1 LISTENERS' CHOICE AWARD 2020 & THE DALKEY EMERGING WRITER AWARD 2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE & THE i COMEDY WOMEN IN PRINT PRIZE, 2021

AN IRISH TIMES, IRISH SUNDAY TIMES, IRISH INDEPENDENT & SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR, 2020

About The Author

Caoilinn Hughes is the author of Orchid & the Wasp, which won the Collyer Bristow Prize and was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, and The Wild Laughter, which won the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award and was longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. She was recently the Oscar Wilde Centre Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and will be a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library for 2023-2024.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (July 28, 2020)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781786077806

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Raves and Reviews

‘A very funny novel. There’s a spiky levity to dialogue and narration alike, with liberal sprinklings of snark, gallows humour and word play.’ Financial Times

'The Wild Laughter is a propulsive, raucous, funny and deeply moving novel with a magnetic narrative voice. I loved it.' David Nicholls, author of One Day

'I loved this book. So funny and bleak. I loved the madness, the tone, the ending, the realisation, The Third Policeman charge of the whole thing.' Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of The Commitments

'[A] riotous dark comedy…with much to relish in the crunchy vernacular and ribald humour… Hughes captures a feverish moment of country-wide crisis in a first-rate tale of family debt that isn’t only financial.' Daily Mail

'Powerful...darkly adventurous... An Irish Cain and Abel.' Guardian

'A finely tuned symphony... Hughes's dark comedy reads like a post-boom Beckett, if he'd been let run riot on a heart-scald of a potato farm in Co Roscommon... Dazzling doesn't even come close.' Sunday Independent (Ireland)

'A dark, epic family saga about rural Ireland… The end is as shocking as it is inevitable...delivering a gut punch that both holds a mirror to Ireland’s recent past and warns of the dangers of being too in thrall to ancient history.' i

'The Wild Laughter is a glorious, tender, wounded and furiously funny book. It couldn't suit our times better if it tried.' A.L. Kennedy, author of Serious Sweet

'A grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now... So original and vibrant.' Encore Award Judges

'Sharp, witty and full of gorgeous language.' Rick O'Shea, Best Books of 2020

'After the widespread critical acclaim of her debut Orchid and the Wasp, Hughes' firecracker language and unruly wit returns with a bedraggled family saga set during the financial crash... A powerfully original voice in Irish fiction.' Irish Independent

'What a profound, much needed, urgent novel. The Wild Laughter is dark and beautiful.' Fatima Bhutto, author of The Runaways

'A razor-sharp snapshot of a family and a nation in trouble, in language that is vital and richly inventive... A remarkable achievement... An exhilarating and moving story of an Ireland in disarray.' Irish Times

'A memorable, insightful portrait of a complex family in an equally complex economic and emotional situation... The Wild Laughter succeeds on all levels.' Patrick deWitt, author of French Exit

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