Synopses & Reviews
"Hyland's clever prose is first-rate, but wit makes a weak substitute for insight in this novel about a deeply troubled young Englishman who seeks a fresh start, only to end up facing serious criminal charges. As a child, the unreliable 23-year-old narrator, Patrick Oxtoby, was an excellent student, but after a breakdown at age 14 he became fascinated with mechanics. Now, shortly after his fiance leaves him, he lands in a small seaside town, takes a job at an auto repair shop and moves into a boarding house he can't afford. It seems as if Hyland misses every opportunity to delve into the roots of Patrick's awkwardness: his landlady and a local waitress provide him fantasy material, and it's clear, even from Patrick's problematic perspective, that he comes across as creepy. Nonetheless, both women inexplicably trust him, just as his parents and older brother appear to love and encourage him until his arrest, at which point, and without explanation, they abandon him. Hyland (Carry Me Down) sails across Patrick's dark exterior with humor and empathy, but as with everyone Patrick encounters, she hesitates to dive below the surface." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A moving and compassionate portrait of a human being who is fully himself and yet stands for all of us, for what we fear, or fear to hope.”New York Times Book Review
[A] visceral, deeply affecting tale . . . Causality is a question at the heart of the gripping narrative . . . This is a compassionate, disturbing novel, tragically showing a human learning to appreciate life only when his own has been incarcerated.” The Independent (UK)
MJ Hyland is an expert anatomist of the bruises left on a fragile mind by a hard world . . . Every word of Hylands narrative observed with the bright, deranged precision of a Richard Dadd painting resonates.”The Telegraph (UK)
This is How, the fearlessly disturbing new novel by M.J. Hyland, takes us inside the mind not of an innocent but of a killer . . . Young Patrick Oxby . . . Hylands pared-down descriptions of Patricks lifeas it once was and as he now endures itconvey excruciating tension and pain. Yet the claustrophobic world that she creates has at its core a disfigured yet recognizable humanity."Boston Globe
A tour de force. Hyland illuminates this damaged soul with such a steely, brilliant clarity that your heart breaks for him.”Helen Garner, author of The Spare Room
This Is How confirms M.J. Hyland as a true original. She has a ferocious imagination, and an eerie way of squeezing the distance between author, character and reader, so that the atmosphere of the book soaks and penetrates the readers mind. When youve been reading Hyland, other writers seem to lack integrity; they seem wedded to weak confabulations, whereas she aims straight for the truth and the heart.”Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-wining author of Wolf Hall
Bleak yet moving, mercilessly dispassionate yet shot through with kindness and wit, [This Is How] is a profound achievement . . . it reminds us that there are some truths only fiction can carry.”The Guardian (UK)
There is no fanciness to Hylands prose. Everything first person, present tense is controlled and precise. In the second half of the book, Patricks claustrophobic world becomes unutterably grim, but it never feels less than completely real. If you are looking for light entertainment, this is definitely not it. But when it comes to social complexity and nuance, Hyland is compelling.”The Times (UK)
Novels are strange beasts, and you cant always know how one is going to affect you. I finished This is How feeling slightly short-changed, disappointed that Id somehow been denied a solution to the mystery that its author had set up. Three or four days later, however, Hylands white-hot prose was still smouldering in my head and I found myself intensely, almost helplessly, moved by Oxtoby and his tragedy. Some novels play a long game. Its all credit to Hyland that Im still thinking about this one, still excited and perturbed by it, still trying to work out what exactly it is that I just read.”Financial Times (UK)
M. J. Hyland is the award winning and Man Booker shortlisted author of Carry Me Down
. Her third novel, This Is How
, is a psychologically probing and deeply moving account of a man at odds with the world. Patrick Oxtoby is a perpetual outsider longing to find his niche. When his fiancé breaks off their engagement, Patrick leaves home and moves to a remote seaside village. In spite of his hopes for a new and better life, Patrick struggles to fit in or make the right impression. He cant shake the feeling that his new friends are conspiring against him, further fracturing his already fragile personality and prompting him to take a course of action that permanently alters the course of his life.
This Is How is a mesmerizing and meticulously drawn portrait of a man whose unease in the world as it is leads to his tragic undoing. With breathtaking wisdom and astute insight into the human mind, Hylands latest is a masterpiece that arouses horror and sympathy in equal measure.
From the author of "Carry Me Down" comes this meticulously drawn portrait of a man whose unease in the world leads to his tragic undoing. With wisdom and astute insight into the human mind, Hyland's novel arouses horror and sympathy in equal measure.
About the Author
M.J. Hyland is an ex-lawyer and the author of three multi-award-winning novels: How the Light Gets In, Carry Me Down
, and This is How
. Carry Me Down
was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won both the Hawthornden Prize and The Encore Prize.
Hyland is also a lecturer in Creative Writing in The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester where she runs fiction workshops, alongside Martin Amis, Colm Tóibín, and Jeanette Winterson. She also runs regular fiction masterclasses in The Guardian Masterclass Programme, and has twice been shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Prize (2011 and 2012). She also publishes in The Guardian's "How to Write" series, and has written nonfiction for The Financial Times, Granta, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Hyland is co-founder of The Hyland and Byrne Editing Firm (see - editingfirm.com and mjhyland.com)