'It’s me that should be crying. I’m younger than you.' He caught the tear and rubbed it under his armpit.
Meet the brilliant eleven-year-old Albert and his seventeen-year-old sister, Kate. They grew up in a commune in south Wales but the world, as they know it, is about to change. ‘The greasy palm of puberty’ is fast approaching Albert, while Kate is stepping into young adulthood. And now, after twenty years of effort, the commune is disintegrating taking with it their parents’ marriage and, possibly, the sanity of some of the community’s members. Kate escapes to suburbia while Albert becomes obsessed with the idea of the end of the world. It’s imminent.
As with his debut novel, Submarine (Hamish Hamilton, 2008), Joe Dunthorne’s wit is felt throughout Wild Abandon. The characters’ behaviour is often ridiculous and sometimes painfully embarrassing, but the author’s warm affection makes it easy to like them and to enjoy getting acquainted with them. For its side-long take on Wales, the lovely, messed-up, hopeful family of characters filling its pages and, definitely, for the exceptional Albert, this book is undeniably one of the books of the year.
'The novel is full of finely nuanced details and a restless comic energy.'
'Dunthorne is such a calm, perceptive and naturally comic writer that he rounds everything out and makes all the parts meld – a bit like a successful commune, if such a thing exists.'