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A moving literary debut from a prizewinning young writer - a story of the joys and tragedies in everyday lives.

A Times bestseller

'Wonderful...I was hooked from the first page. It's the real stuff.' - Michael Frayn
'Deeply affecting' - Guardian
'Superb' - Mail on Sunday
'Barney Norris is a rare and precious talent' - Evening Standard
'There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.'

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.

Barney Norris's third novel, The Vanishing Hours, will be published in July 2019.


Wonderful…I was hooked from the first page. Barney has the real novelist’s ability to inhabit different characters, and to make the texture of life tangible and compelling. Everything he writes about love, loss, grief, desolation, and moments of hope and illumination rings absolutely true. It’s the real stuff.

Michael Frayn

Remember the name Barney Norris. He's a new writer in his mid-twenties, but already outstanding.


Looks well beyond the literary intelligentsia’s world, describing with great humanity five ordinary lives, and coming close, as it does so, to being a “state of the nation” novel – albeit one with none of the bombast the term usually implies…deeply affecting…a tolerant and insightful debut


Barney Norris is a rare and precious talent...a writer-chronicler to be cherished.

Evening Standard

Outstanding...a moving, strangely uplifting novel that grapples with the coarse substance of everyday existence and poetically celebrates its passage. Superb.

Mail on Sunday

Extraordinarily involving and perceptive...a picture of a society evoked through its injured members. A most remarkable book.

Bernard O'Donoghue

Norris has a gift for tapping in to ordinary lives and finding the extraordinary in them...emotional, compelling and thought-provoking

Daily Mail

Barney Norris’ first novel has the deep emotional power and accuracy of his admired plays, and more: a sweeping study of how, in everyone’s lives, memory and imagination may intersect with chance.

David Hare

Compelling...Norris never loses sight of the love there is to be found in the world as long as one is willing to seek it out and fight to keep it.

Evening Standard

Brilliant and multi-layered...the author has an uncanny ability to capture even the tiniest nuances of each character

The Herald


Radio Times

Powerful...this young writer is capable of convincing compassion


Norris writes beautifully, unearthing extraordinary depths in the everyday...a memorable writer, mature beyond his years.

Sunday Times

Norris writes beautifully, unearthing extraordinary depths in the everyday...a memorable writer, mature beyond his years.

Sunday Times

Just shimmering

Sainsburys Magazine

Remarkable...makes you thrill to be alive

Financial Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    November 15, 2016

    Black Swan

    288 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 21, 2016

    Transworld Digital

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

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