Publication Date: 24/08/2023 ISBN: 9781805300588 Categories: ,

O Brother

John Niven

Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication Date: 24/08/2023 ISBN: 9781805300588 Categories: ,




John Niven’s little brother Gary was fearless, popular, stubborn, handsome, hilarious and sometimes terrifying. In 2010, after years of chaotic struggle against the world, he took his own life at the age of 42.

Hoping for the best while often witnessing the worst, John, his younger sister Linda and their mother, Jeanette, saw the darkest fears they had for Gary played out in drug deals, prison and bankruptcy. While his life spiralled downward and the love the Nivens’ shared was tested to its limit, John drifted into his own trouble in the music industry, a world where excess was often a marker of success.

Tracking the lives of two brothers in changing times – from illicit cans of lager in 70s sitting rooms to ecstasy in 90s raves – O Brother is a tender, affecting and often uproariously funny story. It is about the bonds of family and how we try to keep the finest of those we lose alive. It is about black sheep and what it takes to break the ties that bind. Fundamentally it is about how families survive suicide, ‘that last cry, from the saddest outpost.’

Publisher Review

Oh my God, this book! O Brother feels like war-level reportage from the nuclear-blast that suicide inflicts on a family. [. . . ] The honesty is unflinching, the humour night-black, and yet the sheer energy and power of the writing means you can, as I did, inhale it in just two sittings [. . . ]. A book whose genuine importance is only equaled by its sheer, visceral, compulsive readability — CAITLIN MORAN Absurdly well-written, painfully funny and painfully painful — ADAM KAY As moving, scalding, funny and harrowing as any memoir I’ve ever read — IAN RANKIN O Brother is an extraordinary memoir; as devastating as it is colourful, forensic in its examination of family dynamics and oh so beautifully written. I earmarked so many pages that my copy doubled in width. Do not read the final chapter without a box of tissues — JOJO MOYES An extraordinary book. Simultaneously tragic and funny and dark but shot through with bursts of light and laughter and joy — CHARLIE HIGSON Heartbreaking and heartwarming — WILL YOUNG This is a work of scalding honesty and candour which explores the devastating impact of suicide on a family . . . An act of remembrance and a testimony to his brother [. . .]. Transcendent power and anguish, shot through with brilliant humour and insight. I couldn’t put it down — SALI HUGHES [O Brother is] packed with righteous fury, dark humour and boundless love . . . It’s also a brilliantly clear-eyed (and often extremely funny) look at the impact of music on John’s life * * Irvine Times * * Praise for John Niven: ‘Niven can provoke tears of sorrow as well as laughter’ * * Sunday Telegraph * * John Niven is our Hunter S. Thompson — ADAM KAY A writer who could wring laughs out of pretty much anything * * The Times * * There’s nothing faster, sadder or funnier than John Niven on men — CAITLIN MORAN Probably the most exciting British writer working today — DANNY WALLACE It’s impossible to read [Niven] without laughing out loud one second, then feeling guiltily exhilarated the next — MARINA HYDE

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