Released in the UK to glowing praise—“a rollicking tale of a hero’s return… breaking down the barriers between mystery story and comedy of manners, mixing magical realism and crime fiction” (Guardian); a “brilliantly bold debut… Utterly unputdownable” (Sunday Express Magazine)—
HIMSELF is the spellbinding tale of a young man who returns to the provincial Irish village where he was born in search of the truth about his long-lost mother.
When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.
His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.
Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.
‘An intriguing story of family secrets and haunting.’ Andrew Michael Hurley, author of The Loney
‘I love this book. It’s a magic realist murder mystery set in rural Ireland, in which the dead play as important a part as the living. It’s one of those books that has you smiling as you read, and that you plan to read again very soon.’ Louis De Bernieres, author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
‘Himself is a sort of Under Milk Wood meets The Third Policeman meets Agatha Christie. It’s a highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secrets and engaging characters (not all of them still alive). Lushly imagined, delightfully original and very, very funny, it hurtles along from the very first page. A hugely enjoyable read.’ ML Steadman, author of The Light Between Oceans
About the Author
Jess completed her first degree in Literature with The Open University, and has since taught creative writing and gained a PhD in Creative Writing Studies. She has also worked as a support worker specialising in acquired brain injury.
Jess was brought up in London as part of a large family from Mayo, and plans to settle somewhere along the west coast of Ireland in the next few years. Until then, she lives in London with her daughter.
Jess is now completing her second novel, starting her third, and working on her first collection of short stories – many of which are either set in Ireland or have Irish protagonists. HIMSELF is Jess’s first novel, and will be published by Canongate in late October 2016.