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  • Published: 15 June 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099584124
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

Missing Fay

A mysterious haunting novel starring a cast of brilliant eccentrics bound together by a missing girl

'An intricately crafted novel, sharp-eared, current and full of heart' Guardian, Books of the Year

A spirited fourteen-year-old, Fay, goes missing from a Lincoln council estate. Is she a runaway, or a victim – another face on a poster gradually fading with time? The story of her last few days before she vanishes is interwoven with the varied lives of six locals – all touched in life-changing ways.

David is on a family holiday on the bleak Lincolnshire coast; Howard, a retired steel worker with some dodgy friends; Cosmina, a Romanian immigrant; Sheena, middle-aged and single, running a kiddies’ clothes shop; Mike, owner of a second-hand bookshop and secretly in love with Cosmina; and Chris, a TV-producer-become-monk struggling to leave the ordinary world behind. All are involuntary witnesses to the lost girl; paths cross, threads touch, connections are made or lost. Is Fay alive or dead? Or somewhere in between?

  • Published: 15 June 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099584124
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Adam Thorpe

Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956. His first novel, Ulverton, appeared in 1992 and he has published two books of stories and ten further novels, most recently Missing Fay (2017), and six poetry collections.


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Praise for Missing Fay

Thorpe’s ability to inhabit [his] disparate characters is hugely impressive, and he excels at charting the often volatile mood swings within a relationship.

Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday

Adam Thorpe’s superb new novel will put this gifted novelist back on the map... A tour-de-force of depth and nuance... Missing Fay is superb on many levels... A vivid portrait of a particular locality, a psychological study of overlapping lives, a pitch-perfect piece of ventriloquism...and a sweeping conspectus of contemporary concerns.

Sunday Times

A vibrant ensembles piece unfolding around the disappearance of a teenage girl… Missing Fay… inhabits each of its characters one chapter at a time – a...vivid approach that affords a steady pulse of dramatic irony as well as a measure of suspense… [A] rich novel of loose ends.

Anthony Cummins, Observer

One of those rare writers who can do the magic of completely disappearing and letting his characters…speak for themselvesThorpe is not a regular fixture on literary prize shortlists. Surely that will change with this engrossing, unforgettable work of wonder.

Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

Missing Fay is a book of lives… Thorpe draws each character with economy, empathy, depth of perception and, notwithstanding the subject matter, great humour… He presents human existence in all its isolation and odd interconnectedness, and he does so with a poet’s eye for language, a short-story writer’s gift for compassion and a novelist’s overarching perspective. He is one of modern English fiction’s standout talents.

Simon Baker, Literary Review

Adam Thorpe is a wonderfully sympathetic novelist with a keen eye and alert ear... You cannot but admire and enjoy his ability to portray such a variety of people and to explore the randomness of barely-connected experiences. It’s a novel that demands, and deserves, to be read slowly, with close attention.

Allan Massie, Scotsman

Missing Fay is a welcome and timely work about loneliness and alienation in a rootless, restless England. In years to come, when we are trying to understand the complexities that led from "Broken Britain" to Brexit, this thoughtful, unsettling and intricate novel may well provide some of the answers.

Andrew Michael Hurley, Guardian

Not only Britain’s most underrated writer, he is also among the most original… [Missing Fay] is believable, human, sustained by characterisation, nuanced prose and a robust, natural humanity all of its own. Further evidence, as if needed, that Adam Thorpe is a very fine writer indeed. Novelists don’t have to be accomplished poets, yet it clearly helps.

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

Thorpe is a master of quiet ironies, of exquisite detailThis is a mysterious, lucent novel, compelling in its tautness, devastating in its wisdom. I hope it wins prizes.

Philip Womack, Spectator

There is no typical Adam Thorpe novel… Missing Fay defies categorisation and shows off his finest literary tricks.

Fiona Wilson, The Times

It’s wry, visceral, angry and wise.

Andrew Michael Hurley, Observer

Fluent and prolific, he ranges easily between voices and subjects… threaded together with care and panache… Most of the men in the novel…entertain fantasies about vulnerable women… In Missing Fay, Thorpe attempts, with typical self-effacement, to give them a voice of their own.

Sam Kitchener, Daily Telegraph

If the missing girl trope belongs to crime fiction, the ambiguity here makes for a richer and more haunting experience. There are plenty of suspects, and a second read reveals connections you won’t get on the first. The mystery of the missing girl cleverly connects lives that rarely intersect… Thorpe’s teeming free-indirect style interweaves a tapestry of prejudices… This is a clear-sighted work of art. With great empathy it imagines lives which, hidden from each other, are revealed in their common causes to the reader; if Thorpe is right, a better world, while unlikely, is possible.

Luke Brown, Financial Times

If you believe that English fiction is jaded, you must read Adam Thorpe

Hilary Mantel

Is Thorpe Britain’s most underrated writer? Having just re-read his 1992 classic novel Ulverton, I say he has to be in the running

John Burnside

Missing Fay…presents entwined provincial lives with illuminating precision, its prose textured, its structure intricate… He is alert to every English linguistic twitch, every slippery folk-meme. He’s a writer’s writer, and I wish he were a reader’s writer too.

Hilary Mantel, Times Literary Supplement


Anthony Cummins, Daily Telegraph

An intricately crafted novel, sharp-eared, current and full of heart, about a lost teenager in a lost England.

Hilary Mantel, Observer

Twenty-five years on from his spectacular debut novel, Ulverton, Thorpe has produced a book that resembles and rivals it… With tremendous flair, Thorpe opens up a vista of present-day middle England.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

An intricately crafted novel, sharp-eared, current and full of heart.

Guardian, Books of the Year

An upmarket take on the Gone Girl mystery.

Mark Lawson, Guardian, Books of the Year

With tremendous flair, Thorpe opens up a vista of present-day middle England.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Books of the Year