book cover of Wild Houses
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Wild Houses

(2024)
A novel by

 
 
The riotous, raucous and deeply resonant debut novel from “one of the best story writers in the English language today” (Financial Times) Wild Houses follows two outsiders caught in the crosshairs of a small-town revenge kidnapping gone awry

With his acclaimed and award-winning collections Young Skins and Homesickness Colin Barrett cemented his reputation as one of contemporary Irish literature’s most daring stylists. Praised by the Oprah Daily as “a doyen of the sentence,” and by the Los Angeles Times as a writer of “unique genius,” Barrett now expands his canvas with a debut novel that contains as much grit, plot, and linguistic energy as any of his celebrated short stories.

As Ballina prepares for its biggest weekend of the year, introspective loner Dev answers his door on Friday night to find Doll English— younger brother of small-time local dealer Cillian English—bruised and in the clutches of Gabe and Sketch Ferdia, County Mayo’s fraternal enforcers and Dev’s cousins. Dev’s quiet homelife is upturned as he is quickly and unwillingly drawn headlong into the Ferdias' frenetic revenge plot against Cillian. Meanwhile, Doll’s girlfriend, seventeen-year-old Nicky, reeling from a fractious Friday and plagued by ghosts and tragedy of her own, sets out on a feverish mission to save Doll, even as she questions her future in Ballina.

Set against Barrett’s trademark depictions of small town Irish life, Wild Houses is thrillingly-told story of two outsiders striving to find themselves as their worlds collapse in chaos and violence.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Vivid, controlled, very funny, and very moving - Barrett has the kind of pure writing chops that are vanishingly rare." - Kevin Barry

"Vivid and wild, funny and chilling - Wild Houses is the business." - Roddy Doyle

"Colin Barrett quietly, insistently, writes so deeply into his characters you could reach out and touch them. Wild Houses is a gift of true storytelling and Barrett's talent burns up the page." - Anne Enright

"Colin Barrett proved with his short stories that he's not only one of the most stylistically gifted writers working now, but also one of the most generous. His first novel, Wild Houses, is deft, intricate, unique - restorative in its refusal to be anything but itself. He is a talent of the rarest kind." - Nicole Flattery

"Colin Barrett made us wait for this one, and it was worth it. Sharp and affecting, expansive and playful, Barrett has written a gorgeous novel filled with gorgeous sentences. A dream to read, and no doubt destined to be one of the novels of the year." - Michael Magee

"This strange and beautiful novel brings to life an entire world. Wild Houses is a book not just to read but to live inside." - Sally Rooney

"Wild Houses is swift, tender, and honest. It's been a long time since I've been so worried, so heartbroken, so moved by a set of funny misfits. Barrett is one of our keenest observers of the miraculous amid the everyday and of the uncommon beauty of common things, the power of attention. When I finished this novel, I desperately wanted to call Dev, Doll, or Nicky, just to see if they were okay, to see if everything had turned out alright. A brilliant novel." - Brandon Taylor

"Wild Houses has a rare momentum that comes from the rhythms of the sentences, the vivid descriptions and the brilliantly chosen details. The momentum emerges also from the depth and complexity of the main characters and the wide sweep of the narrative. In a small town in the west of Ireland over a few days, a whole world, memorable and edgy, is captured for the reader." - Colm Tóibín


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