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A stunning debut novel set in the murky worlds of telephone salesmen and supermarket shelf-stackers by one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2013.

Paul Rainey, an ad salesman, perceives dimly through a fog of psychoactive substances his dissatisfaction with his life- professional, sexual, weekends, the lot. He only wishes there was something he could do about it. And 'something' seems to fall into his lap when a meeting with an old friend and fellow salesman, Eddy Jaw, leads to the offer of a new job. But when this offer turns out to be as misleading as Paul's sales patter, his life and that of his family are transformed in ways very much more peculiar than he ever thought possible.


One of the great English novels of recent years, a work of sublime literary realism, and a blackly comic meditation on the sins and sorrows of modernity

Rachel Cusk

Wonderfully dark

The Times

A terrific debut, written in a present tense which flashes every so often into the past - a trick which Szalay pulls off with confidence... a tense and compelling read


A funny, painful, graphic demonstration that our job is a crucial part of our identity.... It's compulsively readable

Independent on Sunday

Szalay's satire is sharp, though his depictions of rush-hour raise the blood pressure to levels that are not advisable

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

This is David Szalay's first novel, and it's very, very good...it has a whiff of The Office...Superb

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Scotsman

It's very, very good

William Leith, Evening Standard

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Formats & editions

  • EBook


    May 3, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    352 pages

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  • Paperback


    April 15, 2009


    352 pages

    RRP $19.99

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