Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat


by Ray Robinson

“Lily’s voice, and Robinson’s writing, is usually viciously sharp. . . . Robinson pulls out of Lily’s narration a blunt and almost brutal lyricism, well-suited to the dull, claustrophobia-inducing British landscape.” —Ben Ehrenreich, Los Angeles Times

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 368
  • Publication Date August 20, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-7035-4
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

An arresting, assured debut with an unforgettable narrator who refuses to be defined by her limitations, Electricity establishes Ray Robinson as a major new writer.

Ray Robinson is one of the most arresting voices to come out of England in recent years. He is an assured, fearless young storyteller whose novel recalls the clarity and visceral power of Chuck Palahniuk and early Mary Gaitskill, and the redemptive spirit of Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone. His debut novel, Electricity, is a tour-de-force portrayal of a heroine you will not soon forget.

Thirty-year-old Lily O’Connor has epilepsy, uncontrollable surges of electricity that leave her in a constant state of edginess. She sees the world in terms of angles: looking at every surface, weighing up every corner, and thinking of her head slamming into it. Prickly, up-front honest, and down-to-earth practical, Lily has learned to make do, to make the most of things, to look after—and out forr—herself.

Then her motherr—whom Lily has not seen for yearsr—dies, and Lily is drawn back into a world she thought she’d long since left behind. Reunited with her brother, a charismatic poker player, Lily pursues her own high-stakes gamble, setting out for London to track down her other, missing brother, Mikey. Her only lead is an ex-girlfriend who wants nothing to do with their family. In the pandemonium of the city, far from familiar allies, Lily’s seizures only intensify. As her journey takes her from her comfort zone, it leads her into the question of what her life is meant to be.

Electricity is Lily’s story, told in fits and starts. Powerful, fresh, and utterly compelling, it is a debut that establishes Ray Robinson as an important and fearless new talent.

Tags Literary


“In Electricity, Robinson’s got mastery of perspective, voice, and interiority. There’s tenderness to the way he captures Lily and records the trials and tribulations of her often difficult, ultimately redemptive, journey.” —Tess Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle

“Intense and high voltage. Readers will . . . be touched by Lily’s friendship with Mel.” —Christine Jacques, Rocky Mountain News

“[A] fizzing first novel . . . Until now, the points of view of people with disabilities have perhaps been under-documented, and certainly under-published. Yet these protagonists make perfect narrators. They have a natural private universe into which the reader is immediately drawn, and which often provides a provocatively original take on our lives. It’s a universe in which—unlike tales told by omniscient storytellers with little to bother them—nothing can be taken for granted.” —Frances Osborne, Vogue (UK)

“A vividly portrayed, most unconventional protagonist dominates this punchy first novel. . . . Lily’s voice is impressive—raw, angry, emotionally urgent, rising frequently to inchoate poetry. . . . [A] daring tightrope-walk of a novel.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[A] startling debut . . . Robinson expertly captures the dislocation of day-to-day life for someone in thrall to a debilitating and seemingly random condition . . . The result is a novel of illness and involuntarily altered states that presents reality as something unpleasant and tentative . . . Robinson’s prose is taut, and Lily is an unnervingly frank and honest narrator. Not only that, she’s great company . . . an impressive achievement.” —Time Out London

Electricity is a gritty tour of both London and the wrecked neurological pathways of epileptic Lily O’Connor. With equal parts hip misanthropy and sweet, clean-hearted sentiment, Ray Robinson convincingly channels the voice of a woman at war with the material world, for whom language itself arrives as a jarring shock to the brain.” —Jonathan Raymond, author of The Half-Life

“Ray Robinson’s Lily is an extraordinary character and his handling of her epilepsy is equally remarkable.” —Daily Express

“Lily O’Connor is one of the most convincingly alluring characters in contemporary fiction. Robinson tells her harrowing story through a highly-charged vernacular that crackles with a skewed and peculiar poetry. Electricity is an extraordinary feat of linguistic ventriloquism; touching, beautiful and compelling. I’ll never forget it.” —Niall Griffiths, author of Grits

“A thorny, uncompromising novel, with attitude. It is also, thanks to Lily O’Connor—its sharp-edged, hard-living, tough-talking narrator—mesmerizing, uplifting, and unexpectedly tender.” —Jim Crace, author of The Devil’s Larder

“As a neurologist, I was astonished by how vividly Ray Robinson portrays one woman’s struggle with epilepsy, and the way it affected her already difficult life and the perceptions of those around her. As a reader, I was deeply moved by his young heroine’s determination to live life as big as she can. This is a story of risk and redemption and is moving, disturbing, and inspirational at the same time.” —Carl W. Bazil, M.D., PH.D., New York Presbyterian Medical Center, Columbia Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

“A quest, narrated in Lily’s engagingly unsentimental voice . . . Hallucinatory flashbacks, downward-counting chapter numbering, pages of jagged typography, icons of Lily’s pills showing time passing, are used to illustrate the way Lily’s fits shape her life and perceptions. Hours and days vanish, and have to be reconstructed from the unreliable accounts of others… Electricity is a powerful, passionate, and informative book.” —Roly Allen, The Times Literary Supplement

“Fast, furious plot, kaleidoscopic imagery, blunt observations and a wry, ingenuous, hugely compassionate heroine make Electricity a breathtaking assault on the senses.” —Catherine Taylor, The Guardian


Sometimes it’s the lights.

The world speeds up and you need to grab on to something like you’ve forgotten what gravity is. The earth jumps away from you and you panic, panic, panic. You’ll find somewhere to sit and take hold of someone’s arm, pull at their hair, snatch the child’s doll away and all the time screaming mmmmgreeeeeheeeeeyaaaaaNEEEEE, then panting, and they don’t know whether to run, cry, hide, or shit themselves. Wondering if you’re having a heart attack, having a baby. Wondering if you’re just the latest community Froot-Loop. Your nails digging into the wooden bench, knuckles scraping the concrete steps until they bleed.

Sometimes God shouts “BOO” into your soul, his breath knocks you to the floor.

Sometimes it’s like warm trickles running from your feet up to your head.

Sometimes people make no sense, you watch their mouths moving but all you hear is oooo eeee aaaa.

Sometimes your jaw judders, opens and closes like a fish, and your tongue’s a lump of gristle that you can’t chew.

Sometimes there’s no feeling at all.

Just wham bam, inhale, and dark electricity.