The Lesser Bohemians

A Novel
Trade Paperback

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A breathtaking award-winning novel about an extraordinary, all-consuming love affair
 
One night an eighteen-year-old Irish girl, recently arrived in London to attend drama school, meets an older man—a well-regarded actor in his own right. While she is naive and thrilled by life in the big city, he is haunted by more than a few demons, and the clamorous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both.
 
A captivating story of passion and innocence, joy and discovery set against the vibrant atmosphere of 1990s London over the course of a single year, The Lesser Bohemians glows with the eddies and anxieties of growing up, and the transformative intensity of a powerful new love.

Winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction
Shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award
Shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize 
Shortlisted for the 2016 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Eason Novel of the Year

Praise

Praise for THE LESSER BOHEMIANS

"[A] propulsive coming-of-age story... imbued with a captivating sense of youthful excitement and vulnerability."
The New Yorker

“The confidence and the capacity are as good as anyone’s…there’s an openness, an inclusivity, a distinct lack of God-almightyness, that makes reading [McBride] such a pleasure.”
Jeannette Winterson, New York Times Book Review

“The Lesser Bohemians” is every bit as stylistically resourceful as “Girl,” every bit as urgent and authentic. It is also more well-rounded, better. The narrative voice will be recognizable to readers of the earlier novel, capturing a snapshot of thought at the moment before grammar constrains it, what the author has referred to as a “stream of pre-consciousness.” The word order is once again scrambled to ingenious (and poetic) effect, clauses pared down to their impressionistic essences…For a second time, Ms. McBride has channeled the mental life of a narrator with an intensity, a lack of mediation, that few authors can achieve. “The Lesser Bohemians” is a full-on sensory experience—and another superlative achievement.”
Wall Street Journal
 
“Spellbinding…[H]er stunning second novel shows that she has not only acquired fresh surfaces to work on, she has also developed exciting new brush strokes…McBride’s prose sings…The Lesser Bohemians recalls Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller. Ultimately, though, it is a fiercely original work, an extraordinary novel crafted by a fearless modern writer.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
The Lesser Bohemians is a love story, yes, but it is really an electric and beautiful account of how the walls of self shift and buckle and are rebuilt.”
—NPR.org
 
 “Joycean…The novel is filled with intricate, imaginative wordplay…crafted by one of the most admired young talents in fiction.” 
—Scott Simon, NPR
 
“[A] powerful novel about desire.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Not often does a novel so expertly seduce its readers into an alternate state of consciousness that it mimics an actual dream state, where everything solid is hazily just beyond reach. Eimear McBride, with her deployment of modernist technique reminiscent of James Joyce, elicits such a mental state throughout her new novel, The Lesser Bohemians ― really,
it’s the only way to read it.”
Huffington Post
 
“This is above all, a love story: bare, achingly romantic, and crushingly felt.”
Booklist, starred review

Excerpt

THE AUDITION

Saturday 12 March 1994

I move. Cars move. Stock, it bends light. City opening itself behind. Here’s to be for its life is the bite and would be start of mine.

Remember. Look up. Like the face of god was lighting me through those grilles above, through windows once a church this hall, and old men watch below. Come in. Please go straight to the stage. I snag my skirt on continents of paint chipped out black by toes and heels, by fingers picking clicking for years. I’d do too if I was here. When I’ll be here. Will I be here? Take a moment, they say Then let’s have your first piece. I. Suck antique air and. Go.

    I don’t know but it’s done by some switch of the brain, this fooling off the girl I am. Giving tendril words to the dust-sunned air or twist from my mouth weeds of her until she’s made her way through time from Arden, Greece or whoever wrote these lines of words learned in my head. Innocent to the work of balconies or beds, I let her talk run free in me and bring her for the age.
    And after.
    They bait me. Strip me a bit. Ask who and you’re young, why not see the world first? Shouldn’t actors see so many things? But I’m sure I have in the deep of my brain. Against my tick-tocking minus in life – books and films, fancied plays I’ll be in, men surely meet, New York taxis maybe run for in elegant heels. Shouldn’t these outweigh what dun school skirts there’s been in this bud of life I own? And lower too, just left unsaid, time when life was something else but I’ve understood a whole world, all remaining is To Do. Can they not see this print on me? Ho ho, they flock You’re all grown-up certainly but second speech, if you would?
    Seated on the floor this, lino underfoot. Her giving out little thoughts, some simple things she’s understood. This lady in her simple skirt, hands open to a gentle earth and though I’m close inside my voice fills wide into the calm. Beseeches but such a quiet way. And this time they are with me, know in her I’ve done my time. May hold her up for looking at and gently set her down. Then let chipped paint oceans roll me back to their shore, hopeful as a breeze. And they only Thank you we’ll let you know. That’s it? Letter next week in the post. Go on out through the canteen. So my audition’s done and can’t be undone now.

From their path I stroll to the City no city, I think to Camden Town. London unspooling itself behind. Traffic all gadding in the midday shine. So many people. So much stone. All at once and streets ahead. I’ll bring it with. I will make myself of life here for life is this place and would be start of mine.

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