Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press


by Will Self

The Booker-shortlisted author of Umbrella writes his most American novel yet—a brilliant portrait of a 1950s housewife, based on the life of the author’s mother, and an exploration of sexual freedom and sublimated desire

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 304
  • Publication Date September 17, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6353-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date September 17, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6354-7
  • US List Price $27.00

Will Self is one of the most inimitable contemporary writers in the English language, dubbed “the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation” by The Guardian. In this brilliantly conceived new novel Self turns his forensic eye and technicolor imagination to the troubled life of his mother, Elaine. Standing by the mailbox outside 1100 Hemlock Street in Ithaca, New York, Elaine thinks of her husband and child inside her house and wonders: is this . . . it?

As she begins to push back against the strictures of her life in 1950s America, she undertakes a disastrous affair that places her marriage to an Ivy League academic and former Communist Party member in peril. Based on the intimate diaries Self’s mother kept for over forty years, Elaine is a writer’s attempt to reach the almost unimaginable realm: a parent’s interior life prior to his own existence. Perhaps the first work of auto-oedipal fiction, Elaine shows Will Self working in an exciting new dimension, employing his stylistic talents to tremendous effect.

Tags Literary

Praise for Will Self:

“Will Self may not be the last modernist at work but at the moment he’s the most fascinating of the tradition’s torch bearers.”New York

“Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel.”Guardian

“Mr. Self often enough writes with such vividness it’s as if he is the first person to see anything at all.”New York Times

“Self writes in a high-modernist, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness style, leaping between sentences, time periods, and perspectives . . . The reward is a strange, vivid book.”New Yorker

“Self’s prose demands real attention, but is never less than sharp, biting and incisive. Prepare to be eaten whole.”Independent

“Like the work of the great high modernists from the 1920s, like Joyce, Woolf and Eliot, there is a kind of chaotic beauty in Self’s unrestricted writing . . . You’ll be simultaneously entertained, mesmerized, intellectually stimulated, baffled—and laugh your ass off.”—NPR

“Will Self’s Phone will be one of the most significant literary works of our century . . . Over and above the intellectual sprezzatura of the work, there is, at its heart, an emotional core, a profound sense of grief.”New Statesman

“Self has indeed been a goat among the sheep of contemporary English fiction, a puckish trickster self-consciously at odds with its middle-class politeness . . . Writers, too, as Self so wonderfully proves, can awaken the half-dead and reanimate that which has been sunk in oblivion.”New York Review of Books