An intoxicating gulp of a novel with echoes of J.D Salinger and Dave Eggers.
I ask Oscar how I could be a better guardian and he does his special concentrating face. 'Well,' the little philosopher says at last. 'You should send me to bed earlier. I shouldn't eat so many chips and you shouldn't let me watch so many 12 and 15 DVDs. And you should get a cleaner in.' Jesus. Why does everyone reckon they're the boss of me? I say, 'Perhaps you should take some responsibility for yourself big man.'He fixes me with a stern look. 'Billy, I'm six.'
Billy's Mum is dead. He knows - because he reads about it in magazines - that people die every day in ways that are more random and tragic and stupid than hers, but for nineteen-year-old Billy and his little brother, Oscar, their mother's death in a bungled street robbery is the most random and tragic and stupid thing that could possibly have happened to them.
Now Billy must be both mother and father to Oscar, and despite what his well-meaning aunt, the PTA mothers, the social services and Oscar's own prodigal father all think, he knows he is more than up to the job, thank you very much.
The boys' new world, where bedtimes are arbitrary, tidiness is optional and healthy home-cooked meals pile up uneaten in the freezer, is built out of chaos and fierce love, but it's also a world that teeters perilously on its axis. And as Billy's obsession with his mother's missing killer grows, he risks losing sight of the one thing that really matters...
Funny, bittersweet and unforgettable, Life! Death! Prizes! is a story of grief, resilience and brotherly love.
About the Author
Stephen May's first novel Tag published by a small Welsh press and won Welsh Book of the Year 2009 - despite Stephen not being Welsh. A one-time drama teacher and manager of the Arvon Foundation's LumbBank centre, Stephen lives in Yorkshire where he works for the ArtsCouncil.
A raw, funny and heartfelt book, full of surprising tenderness and hope - a fine achievement A.L. Kennedy I loved this book for its touching, truthful - sometimes shocking - and painfully funny portrayal of two brothers struggling to stay together after the death of their mother. It's a paean of praise for the other side of contemporary youth, the side that, with all its foibles and failures, is still driven by love and connection Mavis Cheek I don't know how he does it, but Stephen May manages to balance hilarity and sadness in nearly every sentence of this deftly comic, completely engaging and at times absolutely hair-raising novel. Life! Death! Prizes! deserves every one of its exclamation marks Suzanne Berne, author of the Orange Prize-winning A Crime in the Neighborhood Echoes of J.D. Salinger and Dave Eggars, this is a book about boys, brotherhood, teenage heroism and confusion. It is happy, sad and good. Stephen May is a major new talent, sharply observant of the human condition Monique Roffey, author of White Woman on the Green Bicycle, shortlisted for Orange Prize I loved Life! Death! Prizes! I read it over a weekend, barely putting it down, and when I'd finished and had to leave Billy and Oscar to the rest of their lives, I felt bereft. Stephen May has the sharp eye of David Nicholls and the verve of Kate Atkinson Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katharine Howard A heartbreaking tale, propulsively told. By turns bleak, funny, and tender, Life! Death! Prizes! is an intoxicating gulp of a novel Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did Full of surprises, this acutely observed story of grief and love begins bleakly, ends up full of compassion and has great deal to say about modern families and the world we live in en route. It's a real achievement, and introduces Stephen May as a talent to be reckoned with Melvin Burgess Gritty, witty, uplifting, sharp - it reminded me of Nick Hornby in its portrayal of modern family in all its glorious chaos Kate Long Stephen May's writing is muscular, tender and touching Willy Russell This is a wonderful, wry novel, looking at brotherly love and grief in a tender and humorous way Psychologies Stephen May's voice is original, funny and poignant as he marries sharp imagery with the brothers' beautifully realised relationship. Unmissable Marie Claire If you're in the mood for a good bout of sobbing and your own life is just too nice to make you cry, this will definitely do it ... one is inevitably reminded of Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius ... it's a warm novel, written with a wry wit, and the end is as uplifting as a good bra -- Kate Saunders The Times Stephen May's rites-of-passage novel is a painfully raw examination of the effects of loss and grief, and the confusion and difficulty of trying to be a male role model when you've never had a proper one yourself Daily Mail May has created some strong characters ... Graphic picture of contemporary family life -- Shena Mackay Guardian For a book about grief, it is a thing of joy. Written with honesty, understatement and a clear insight into a teenage mind, there is as much humour in the book as there is sadness ... His spare prose is the type of writing that skips the tips of icebergs, leaving the reader to plunge their hidden depths Living North
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 1st May 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.4 x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.339