A piercingly original debut about the limits of forgiveness, from an award-winning Scottish poet
* A Scotsman 'Best Book of 2023' *
From an award-winning Scottish poet, an unforgettable novel about memory and radical forgiveness
How far would you go to overcome the limits of your own forgiveness?
Quinn is serving a life sentence for a crime he's convinced he hasn't committed. Surely the authorities have got it wrong, and when they find his childhood sweetheart, Andrea, his name will be cleared. His parole date is drawing near when he receives an unexpected letter from Andrea's mother, who invites Quinn to share her home.
It soon becomes clear that what appears to be a genuine act of forgiveness is influenced by more complex motivations. As the duo navigate the thorny terrain of guilt, justice and mutual need that underpins their relationship, the story of Quinn's past is gradually revealed, setting in motion a final reckoning.
Em Strang's first novel is a hypnotic rendering of an unravelling mind and a visceral story about the very limits of forgiveness.
About the Author
Em Strang is a poet and writer from Scotland. She has a PhD from the University of Glasgow, and in 2014 was selected for a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award. She is the author of several books of poetry including Bird-Woman (2016), which was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize and was awarded the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year Award 2017. Quinn is her first novel.
'Quite remarkable... Strang is an exceptionally accomplished writer.'
— The Scotsman
'Eerie and moving... Quinn is a haunting fable about redemption, rendered in otherworldly, poetic prose.'
'A fascinating fever dream of a book... What a novelistic debut from Em Strang.'
— AL Kennedy, author of We Are Attempting to Survive Our Time
'Arresting… [with] a Max Porter-like intensity.'
— Daily Mail
'Hypnotically beautiful... It has the rare quality of being precise and gripping while at the same time leaving you radically uncertain as to what has actually happened.'
— Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
'Reads like a fever dream... Delicate and touching... This devastating story [is] one of redemption too.'
— New Statesman
'I read it at a sitting, compelled by this strange and beautiful work... An astonishing feat of imagination.'
— Gwen Adshead, author of The Devil You Know
'Em Strang's is a true voice, and Quinn is that rarity, an original work of fiction, which excavates trauma and memory and refuses the frameworks placed on it. This book is its own landscape. Strange and powerful.'
— Paul Kingsnorth, author of The Wake, winner of the Gordon Burn Prize
'Such graceful prose with not a wasted breath; such grounded sharing from the magma of experience.'
— Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul
'A beautifully constructed and mesmerizing book that makes you think afresh about the enduring residue of pain both for those who have committed acts of violence and those affected by them. A brave and original attempt to answer our culture of dehumanization with a story that rehumanizes at every level.'
— Marina Cantacuzino, author of The Forgiveness Project
‘That Em Strang is a poet comes as no surprise. She packs the text with natural imagery and quirky linguistic choices… The novel is compelling and original.’
— Literary Review
'Short but intense… [Strang] clearly realises that her readers are watching out for the first sign of any dash towards the predictable. Her talent lies in the way that she keeps them inside Quinn’s fraying, frightened mind... Imaginative, compelling and refreshingly cliche-free.'
— Books from Scotland
'This novel had us gripped from start to finish!'
'A subtle and sophisticated exploration of forgiveness and motive.'
— Books from Scotland
'Quinn teems with poetic effects... A piece of writing that subverts the novel’s traditional narrative techniques – plot, dialogue, character development – and replaces them instead with the allusive and symbolic devices of an extended prose poem.'