This Plague of Souls (Hardcover)

This Plague of Souls By Mike McCormack Cover Image

This Plague of Souls (Hardcover)


The follow-up to Booker-listed literary sensation Solar Bones is a terse metaphysical thriller, named a most anticipated book of the year by The Guardian, The Irish Times, and The New Statesman.

Nealon returns from prison to his house in the West of Ireland to find it empty. No heat or light, no sign of his wife or child. It is as if the world has forgotten or erased him. Then he starts getting calls from a man who claims to know what's happened to his family-a man who'll tell Nealon all he needs to know in return for a single meeting.

In a hotel lobby, in the shadow of an unfolding terrorist attack, Nealon and the man embark on a conversation shot through with secrets and evasions, a verbal game of cat and mouse that leaps from Nealon's past and childhood to the motives driving a series of international crimes launched against "a world so wretched it can only be redeemed by an act of revenge." McCormack's existential noir is a terse and brooding exploration of the connections between rural Ireland and the globalized cruelties of the twenty­first century. It is also an incisive portrait of a young and struggling family, and a ruthless interrogation of what we owe to those nearest to us, and to the world at large.
Mike McCormack is a novelist and short story writer from the West of Ireland. His novel Solar Bones won the Goldsmiths Prize, the BGE Irish Book of the Year Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. His other works are Notes from a Coma, Crowe’s Requiem, Forensic Songs, and Getting It in the Head, which was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Galway.

Product Details ISBN: 9781641295789
ISBN-10: 1641295783
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2024
Pages: 192
Language: English
Praise for This Plague of Souls

The Times Literary Supplement Best Books of the Year 2023
The New Statesman Best Books of the Year 2023
Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024

“A memorable attempt to evoke the murky contemporary relationship between individuals and unseen global systems. As its mysteries compound, the novel constructs a vast speculative network in which everything appears conspiratorially connected—‘art and politics, light and dark, past and future’—yet nothing is really understood.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Tightly structured, with elements of noir.”
The Los Angeles Times

“A suspenseful and beautiful work by a writer who hates where he believes the world is headed and is attuned to the simple joys we are in danger of losing.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Terror, crime and sinister phone-calls — a magnificent Irish novel. For the most part, it reads like a thriller, shot through with a pervading atmosphere of precarity and uncertainty . . . a beautifully written collision of mystery and metaphysics.”
The Telegraph

“McCormack’s prose is quite simply the best around, his sentences a joy, clear and precise, as uncluttered as the west of Ireland landscape they describe.”
Irish Examiner

“McCormack is a singular talent, lucid sentences locking into an eerie and unforgettable edifice. It has brutal physicality and arch metaphysics.”
The Scotsman

“Drawing these threads of heartbreak, surreal menace and the possible imminent collapse of the world together, McCormack weaves a web that holds the reader in suspense to the end—and beyond.”
The Spectator

“McCormack’s language is evocative, perfectly suited to the noirish atmosphere he builds throughout the book . . . As in Solar Bones, McCormack displays his gift for describing landscapes and situations that might seem unlovely, but for the fact that they are loved by the author’s observing eye . . . This is a strange novel, sinister yet hopeful, a descent into darkness that somehow manages to rise into a ringing light.”
The Guardian

“When someone tells Nealon a summary of his life he is astonished that suddenly the messy existence he has led sounds as though it makes sense. This Plague of Souls reminds us that fiction can do that, make sense of the jumble of our lives, even if it doesn’t provide all the answers. Not everyone will love this book and its mysteries — the way it acknowledges but estranges the reader — but those who do will not forget it. Imagine if all writers took this much trouble.”
—John Self, The Times (UK)

“Suffused in a sense of indeterminate dread, yet richly committed to the tangible realities of its setting . . . [This Plague of Souls] is an enigmatic, unsettling, Pinteresque masterpiece of withheld information.”
—Nat Segnit, The Times Literary Supplement

“A world of chaos and instability, with a troubled multi-dimensional character at its centre and an exquisitely rendered rural Ireland of beauty and darkness as the backdrop. McCormack is a cryptic, elliptical writer, forensic in his plotting and canny at teasing his readers.”
Financial Times

“Operating in a minor key, nudging us coyly towards an eerily personal apocalypse, the new book creates an utterly distinctive, utterly contemporary mood.”
The Irish Times

“McCormack's previous novel, Solar Bones, was robbed when it only made the longlist for the Booker Prize in 2017. Centred on the everyman psyche of an Irish engineer, it had a poignant twist I'm not about to spoil here - but if you've read it, let me say now that the trick he pulled in that book has nothing on the high-jinks afoot here . . . It's all very slippery and endlessly suggestive, as the circular wandering gives way to dystopian horror and a parable of complicity and guilt on an interconnected planet.”
—Daily Mail

“Ultimately, this is a mood piece with a creeping, mesmeric tone of its own . . . Seek out this unique proposition by this inimitable writer.”
—The Irish Independent

“In a further step to cement his place at the top table of contemporary Irish novelists, McCormack has crafted another perfectly plotted opus . . . Perfect reading for cold autumn nights.”
—Buzz Magazine (UK)

“[Mike McCormack] has an uncanny gift for presenting a vivid realist depiction of the contemporary west of Ireland but layering it through with unexpected genre notes – there are elements of noir, dystopia, existential mystery. Built on lines of perfectly cadenced dialogue, [This Plague of Souls] is easily on a par with its feted predecessor, Solar Bones.”
—Kevin Barry, The New Statesman

“In This Plague of Souls, a whip-tight narrative often spills into poetry without ever losing its emotional heft . . . There are echoes of Seamus Heaney in McCormack’s pinpoint depictions of rural life.”
Business Post

“This is the reason Mike McCormack is one of Ireland’s best-loved novelists; he is the most modestly brilliant writer we have. His delicate abstractions are woven from the ordinary and domestic—both metaphysical and moving, McCormack’s work asks the big questions about our small lives.”
—Anne Enright, Booker-winning author of The Gathering

This Plague of Souls is written in perfectly-pitched cadences. It captures with exquisite care of a man ambushed by loss and fear, by hovering forces that are mysterious and otherworldly and beyond his control. It further establishes Mike McCormack as one of the best novelists writing now.”
—Colm Tóibín, author of The Master

“A small novel crammed with big ideas, This Plague of Souls is at once though-provoking and deeply satisfying.”
—Mick Herron, author of Slow Horses

“A sombre tale shot through with glints of dark humour, in which the sins of the past at once haunt and illuminate the present. A compelling read, with a thrillingly undecided ending.”
—John Banville, Booker-winning author of The Sea

“This is a darkly marvelous novel: at once intimate, domestic, and poignant, then speculative and hard-boiled and wild. That Mike can be so convincing, so skilled in both registers is remarkable. That he can do it concurrently is genius.”
—Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies

“Mike McCormack’s fiction has always had a philosophical bent, and none more so than in This Plague of Souls. In Nealon, we’re given access to the mind of a man minutely attuned to every movement and vibration of his own consciousness, a man who is psychologically astute but receptive, too, to the hidden rhythms and frequencies of reality. There is a beautiful surreal feel to this novel, with its limbo landscape and night-time drives, but it is Nealon’s meditation on family and fatherhood—and what the loss of those might mean—that will linger long in the reader afterwards.”
—Mary Costello, author of Academy Street

“It was deliciously sinister, and reminded me that nobody captures the cold beauty and cruelty of the world like Mike; I just know I'm going to be chewing it over in my mind for weeks.”
—Sara Baume, author of A Line Made by Walking

“Evocative prose conjures vivid images of the brooding Irish countryside and Nealon’s bleak existence.”
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Mike McCormack

“When venturing into the realm of the macabre, a writer gains a distinct advantage if he has a sense of discipline and a sense of humor . . . Mike McCormack has both to spare.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Mike McCormack has created a narrative of such power and precision . . . The book, ​contemporary and tragic and funny,​ is ​a delight.”
​​ —​​

“The ordinary is hallowed by the originality of its expression . . . the writing is so precise and consistent. Solar Bones is a successful experimental novel, but more than that it is a good human story.”
—​The Wall Street Journal​

“A heady rumination on modern life as otherworldly as it is grounded in reality.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“McCormack’s obsessions at times converge with those explored by Ian McEwan, Will Self and J. G. Ballard, but his clever ideas and fluid, gracefully morbid style are all his own.”

“A Joycean novel about illness, suffering and work​ . . . ​remarkable . . . poetic​. It is the vivid attention to detail, both in Ulysses, James Joyce’s masterpiece, and in Solar Bones, which make both these novels resonate like that evening bell.”
​—The Economist 

“Extraordinary . . . an intoxicating experimental novel. Such experimentation may make some people hesitant; don’t be, the prose flows more like poetry, and is a sombre joy to read.”
—Financial Times​

“Excellence is always rare and often unexpected: we don’t necessarily expect masterpieces even from the great. Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones is exceptional indeed: an extraordinary novel by a writer not yet famous but surely destined to be acclaimed by anyone who believes that the novel is not dead and that novelists are not merely lit-fest fodder for the metropolitan middle classes.”
The Guardian

“With stylistic gusto, and in rare, spare, precise and poetic prose, Mike McCormack gets to the music of what is happening all around us. One of the best novels of the year.”
—Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic

“Pure enchantment from an otherworldly talent. I admired the hell out of this book.”
—Eleanor Catton, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries

“McCormack’s language is lovely, lyrical . . . his humor is dark, macabre; the words glimmer like a spell.”
Time Out

“The greatest Irish novel of the decade.”
Irish Times

“An impressive meditation, as Joyce would say, 'upon all the living and the dead' . . . Mike McCormack is a gifted Irish writer.”
—​Minneapolis Star Tribune​

“The finest book yet from one of Ireland's most singular contemporary writers.”
—Matt Bell, author of Appleseed

“McCormack mimes the deep traditions of Irish short fiction—Samuel Beckett, Frank O'Connor and John McGahern all come to mind—and twists it a bit into a new directions with stories that are uniquely contemporary, often wildly funny, and always visionary. Beneath his clear, precise style is a renegade in action, working the form into new shapes. Just when you think it's impossible for another great book of stories to come roaring out of Ireland, along comes a brilliant collection, Forensic Songs.”
—David Means, author of The Secret Goldfish

“By turns subdued, witty and raucous. All 12 stories in this collection glisten with insight and poignancy.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“[McCormack] effortlessly weaves Raymond Carver’s lucidity together with Franz Kafka’s otherworldly absurdity to craft narratives that seem familiar and satisfyingly strange at the same time.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review