The Wild Laughter
‘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 RTE 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
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.
'Powerful...darkly adventurous... An Irish Cain and Abel... Hart's embittered anguish is resplendent throughout; his role in one of the book's key scenes makes for an outstanding passage of manipulation, misery and culpability. The Wild Laughter's reckoning is as much concerned with these far-reaching effects of history as with the ongoing brutality of austerity.' * Guardian * 'A razor-sharp snapshot of a family and a nation in trouble, in language that is vital and richly inventive... A remarkable achievement... The pedigree of Hughes' writing is already established... The Wild Laughter will surely see her gain further acclaim - it's an exhilarating and moving story of an Ireland in disarray.' * Irish Times * '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 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 * 'Terrific... Full of energy and mordant wit.' * Independent * 'The prose has extraordinary velocity. A book of wicked intelligence and tender heart.' * Max Porter, author of Lanny * 'The Wild Laughter is painfully smart, comically brilliant and boldly subversive. Hughes makes her subject matter entirely her own while providing a lacerating look at the world we live in.' * Olivia Sudjic, author of Sympathy * 'This dazzling family portrait from the acclaimed novelist, short story writer and poet makes for one of the year's most essential reads... It is a punch in the gut. Yet, for all that, it leaves you craving anything and everything Caoilinn Hughes has ever written or will ever write.' * Lunate * 'The narrative voice is ingenious... Hughes thoroughly inhabits the mindset of a lad who fumes with a resentment that's more comical than dangerous... Hughes sets the action against the long, rotting tail of the Celtic Tiger... Sprinklings of Irish and the lightest of references supply a backdrop of Irish history and literature... [Its scenes] are rendered with keen observation. But beyond the humour and verbal exuberance is a slowly darkening portrait of guilt and trauma.' * Literary Review * 'Hughes' writing...has a dry, dark humour that recalls figures such as Samuel Beckett, J.M. Synge and Brian Friel... The Wild Laughter meditates on this dialectic of paternity, asking whether we can anchor ourselves in the past without being consumed by it. Taking its cues from a grand comedic tradition, yet asserting its originality with every line, Caoilinn Hughes's prose answers that question resoundingly in the affirmative.' * TLS * '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 * 'What a profound, much needed, urgent novel. The Wild Laughter is dark and beautiful, and touches the heart of what deep suffering our political systems have brought upon the world, but seen in that clearest way - intimately, microscopically, through family. The myriad ways they can love, hurt and betray one another... So well done.' * Fatima Bhutto, author of The Runaways * 'The Wild Laughter is a raucously intelligent, tough and tender black comedy written in jaggedly beautiful prose and confirms Caoilinn Hughes as a restlessly inventive, exciting new voice in Irish literature.' * Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins * 'Hughes's sharply observed [novel] takes a stark look at an Irish family's love and betrayal amid the recession of 2008... Hughes's taut, voice-driven work balances colorful dialogue with wry commentary, which extends from the characters to the shifting values of their country... This solid family drama stands out by doubling as a poignant state-of-the-nation novel.' * Publishers Weekly * 'The Wild Laughter is a stunning piece of writing. Hughes' sentences are so well-crafted I read many of them several times and discovered fresh layers with each read. Her dialogue is razor sharp and shot through with Beckett-esque black humour. The characters are perfectly drawn. A strong and early contender for Irish novel of the year.' * Jan Carson, author of The Fire Starters * 'Set in the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger, [The Wild Laughter] is a dark comedy on euthanasia.' * Irish Times, Most Anticipated Titles 2020 * '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 * '[The Wild Laughter] is about what happens to a country when the rug gets pulled out from under everyone's feet. Which historically has happened to Ireland on a regular basis, and which the rest of the world is now experiencing. Sharp dialogue, wicked humour, awkward sexy times - did I mention she was Irish? Is she the new Eimear McBride? Could be.' * Readings, Australia * 'Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.' * Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of All the Light We Cannot See * 'Caoilinn Hughes is a writer of immense ability and vitality - she's a true natural, with the talent to match her ambition.' * Kevin Barry, author of Night Boat to Tangier * 'A memorable, insightful portrait of a complex family in an equally complex economic and emotional situation. Caoilinn Hughes get the balance just right: the pathos is real but never heavy-handed; the humour is black but never mean-spirited. The Wild Laughter succeeds on all levels.' * Patrick deWitt, author of French Exit * 'From the first arresting paragraph of The Wild Laughter, Caoilinn Hughes enthrals us on a journey through contemporary Ireland, one that even the most far-flung reader will find delightful, in all of its hilarity, peculiarity and states of flux.' * Elnathan John, author of Born on a Tuesday * 'A slim dynamite book with characters that will stay with you, and a must-read if you love the English language and all it is capable of.' * Bookseller, The American Book Center, The Hague * 'Hughes paints a vivid picture of an Ireland first caught up in greed then brought to its knees by the crash and its fallout. There's a rich vein of very black humour running through this novel until it reaches its sombre closing chapters... A smartly delivered piece of tragicomedy which tackles an issue we all need to confront whether we have faith or not.' * A Life in Books * 'An impressive Celtic Tiger tragedy.' * Martin Doyle, Books Editor, Irish Times * 'This novel will take its rightful place among the best of international writing today.' * Mary Burnham, Bookseller for Dubray * 'I think [Irish literature is] better than it has been for ages... Caoilinn Hughes...has a wonderful, mad book called The Wild Laughter that I would recommend wholeheartedly.' * Interview with Roddy Doyle *
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