The Lesser Bohemians | Penguin Random House Canada
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The Lesser Bohemians

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Shortlisted for The Goldsmith Prize 2016

Shortlisted for the 2016 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Eason Novel of the Year

The captivating, daring new novel from Eimear McBride, whose astonishing debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, was an international literary phenomenon and earned the author multiple awards and recognition.

Upon arrival in London, an eighteen-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she's always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in -- she's young and unexotic; a naive new girl -- but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the big city.
     Then she meets an attractive older man. He's an established actor twenty years her senior, and the inevitable, clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever.
     A redemptive, captivating story of passion and innocence set across the bedsits of mid-nineties London, McBride holds new love under her fierce gaze, giving us all a chance to remember what it's like to fall hard for another.

From the Hardcover edition.


I sleep so safe here, far from the world. Rousing only when I’m stirred by him, climbing across. Go back to sleep     I’m just making some notes, tucking the duvet round. Then through til morning. Light and smoke. Drowse-eyed watch him push his glasses up, stretch, light another cigarette, itching to...
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Praise for The Lesser Bohemians: 

“The book shines thanks to [McBride’s] beautiful writing, but also in the way it cuts to the quick of a young woman's innermost thoughts. It stays with you, and bears rereading.” – The List
The Lesser Bohemians confirms McBride’s status as one of our major novelists. She writes with beauty, wisdom and humour and she is uniquely sensitive to what is being communicated with every look or jerk of the body. If, in DH Lawrence’s formulation, the novel is 'the one bright book of life', then the life here radiates through the pages and illuminates ours.” – The Guardian
“The story abounds with self-destructive behaviour and characters pushed to the limit. There are moments of joy, too, in the thrill of discovering new places and people, in falling in love, and the redemptive power of storytelling. But it’s in the exploration of why people become less than they can be – what hinders their potential to love and be loved – that The Lesser Bohemians finds its greatness.” – iNews
“If Girl described the experience of sexual abuse, this novel explores how people recover from such ordeals. How do they separate out their victimhood from feelings of complicity about what was done to them? How to experience joy again? It broke my heart several times over and on each occasion I had to stop to cry. McBride has made something strange and beautiful — well worth its difficulties.” – Evening Standard
“McBride captures the sense of power and powerlessness when falling in love for the first time.” – Financial Times
“McBride has a rare gift as a writer: she combines high modernism, page-turning plot and melodrama into a narrative that will appeal to mainstream audiences and fans of literary avant garde. The Lesser Bohemians has been 13 years in the making. But great artistic ideas come to those who wait patiently until they are fully developed.” – Irish Independent
“McBride is a daring writer who is not afraid to mess with language, displaying its malleability, randomness and irregular rhythms in equal measure. Words and phrases often go back to front and scenes are pieced together almost like an impressionist painting through fragments, hazy images and a blur of uncertainty.” – Irish Independent
“McBride’s prose is both interesting and beautiful. By placing readers inside Éilís’s mind, she’s made space for all the unfiltered, unedited, mental ramblings of an 18-year-old — and the resulting language is fresh, unadorned, and often gorgeous. . . . The invented words and smashed-together emotions are of the kind that might be edited away in a traditional narrative, but they’re what make The Lesser Bohemians, and McBride’s writing in general, so unique, so must-readable.” – Bustle
“The novel is full of intricate, imaginative wordplay – and sex that can be similarly characterized – crafted by one of the most imaginative young talents in fiction.” – NPR
“I loved this, it’s got so much light and dark. The most honest book I’ve read in a while, right to the core.” –
“This is a book that rewards its reader, almost beyond comprehension. A book that has a stubborn, even compulsive need to find a sense of joy amid the suffering, to coax meaning from chaos. A book of strange power and insight that, in the end, really must not be missed.” – Toronto Star
“McBride has managed a brilliant balancing act. . . . the mixture of sensory impressions and inner commentary successfully captures the inchoate nature of thought while remaining comprehensible. Indeed I found myself so lost in her head that an interlude of ''normal'' storytelling jarringly highlighted how unrealistically smooth most conventional dialogue actually is.” – Otago Daily Times
Rare is the novelist brave or canny enough to deliberately embrace cliché to express truths about her characters. . . . The novel operates in two registers: one in which the language soars, and one that mucks about in the dirt of the everyday and banal. The results do not undermine the clichés of first love, but instead acknowledge the simultaneous commonality and poignancy of its extreme joys and heartbreaks.” – Globe and Mail

“McBride never puts a foot wrong, manipulating language to trap us in Eily’s consciousness and experience for ourselves the tumult of first love. Her prose, so notably chaotic, is in fact a precision tool.” – National Post
“These are fragile, volatile characters under immense strain, both romantic and passionate. . . . If you want or need reminding of the jittery rareness of intimacy and vulnerability between bodies and souls, you’ll be grateful.” – Maclean’s
“A captivating story of the passion and innocence of an all-consuming love affair.” – Ottawa Citizen
“The story, which hinges on a harrowing confession, is imbued with a captivating sense of youthful excitement and vulnerability.” – The New Yorker
“One of McBride’s strengths as a writer is that she doesn’t fill in just for the sake of it. The Twitter-style brevity of her sentences – with none of the Twitter-style banality – ensures that it’s the reader who’s filling in the gaps, not of story or intent but of language.” – New York Times

From the Hardcover edition.