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‘There are some stories that require as much courage to write as they do art. Peter Ho Davies’s achingly honest, searingly comic portrait of fatherhood is just such a story . . . The world needs more stories like this one, more of this kind of courage, more of this kind of love.’ – Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend

When does sorrow turn to shame? When does love become labour? When does chance become choice? And when does fact become fiction?


A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself traces the complex consequences of one of the most personal yet public, intimate yet political, experiences a family can have: to have a child, and conversely, the decision not to have a child. A woman’s first pregnancy is interrupted by test results at once catastrophic and uncertain, leaving her and her husband, a writer, reeling. A second pregnancy ends in a fraught birth, a beloved child, the purgatory of further tests – and questions that reverberate down the years.

This spare, supple narrative chronicles the flux of parenthood, marriage, and the day-to-day practice of loving someone. As challenging as it is vulnerable, as furious as it is tender, as touching as it is darkly comic, Peter Ho Davies’s new novel is an unprecedented depiction of fatherhood.

Reviews

There are some stories that require as much courage to write as they do art. Peter Ho Davies's achingly honest, searingly comic portrait of fatherhood is just such a story. A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself enacts to profound effect the dark shames, fears, and absurdities that are an inescapable part of family life. The world needs more stories like this one, more of this kind of courage, more of this kind of love.
Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of <i>The Friend</i>
I never miss a new book by Peter Ho Davies and A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is his best yet. A taut, raw, clever work of autofiction with a real beating heart, this is the audacious tragicomic novel about fatherhood and long-term love we've been missing.
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of <i>Battleborn</i> and <i>Gold Fame Citrus</i>
Peter Ho Davies has long written brilliantly about accidents of culpability and their winding trails. In A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself he has given us a stunning novel of family life, scrupulous and astute, full of home-truths in every sense. Another triumph by an author whose books I love.
Joan Silber, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of <i>Improvement</i>
A radiant conclusion affirms the daunting cost and overwhelming rewards of raising a child. Perfectly observed and tremendously moving: This will strike a resonant chord with parents everywhere.
Kirkus Reviews
Davies explores their emotions with unflinching honesty . . . [His] meditation on the complexities of parenthood is at once celebration and absolution, finding truth in human contradictions.
Publishers Weekly
A raw, intimate look at a couple's journey into parenthood . . . a resonant treatise on identity, family, grieving, writing, and "the taking and telling of other people's stories.
Booklist
[It] creates controlled art out of life's messy pain . . . There is nothing superfluous in these pages . . . A novel about the comedy and travails of parenting a "twice exceptional" child that earns its place on the shelf alongside the frank and sometimes acerbic memoirs of Rachel Cusk and Anne Enright.
Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine
A powerful account of fatherhood . . . a complicated story, told with fearless honesty. The prose is rueful, spare and matter-of-fact, but emotions churn beneath the clean surface. It can be very funny, but it can also stop you in your tracks.
James Smart, Guardian
A courageous, honest book . . . has a light touch in exploring other moral dilemmas and uncertainties with which we all grapple, putting your emotions through the wringer in prose full of piercing emotional shards . . . This tender, thought-provoking novel captures the doubts, the worries, the pain and the sheer joy of being a parent
Martin Chilton, Independent
This book is so damn good.
Celeste Ng, author of <i>Little Fires Everywhere</i>
Fierce paternal love spills off every page of this masterful book in a way that recalls Max Porter's Grief Is The Thing With Feathers; lean and darkly funny, it contains not a shred of mawkishness . . . This has been billed as autofiction; however you classify it, it's exceptional.
Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
His deceptively simple, pared-back style is ideal for detailing difficult emotions . . . Davies's bold tell-all policy makes for moving and compelling reading . . . admirable for the brave new things it has to say about shame, regret, fatherhood and love
Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times
Davies treats twists of fate with clear-eyed realism, humor, and grace
New Yorker
Davies's novel is a touching, thoughtful portrait of parenthood, with valuable insights into America's corrosive debate on abortion.
Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday
His recollections fizz with tell-all voltage . . . Tender yet clear-eyed, this is a thoughtful, consistently intriguing book, covering a lot of ground in a short space.
Anthony Cummins, Observer
Davies encompasses some of the hugest questions of life, sex, morality and mortality. The prose might be spare and elegant, but the mess, muddle and sheer silliness of ordinary life is sharply evoked.
Suzi Feay, Financial Times
A funny, tender and unflinchingly honest account of fatherhood, of the ways it can wound you and confound you, but also of its potential for transcendent, transformative joy.
David Annand, Times Literary Supplement
The former Granta Young British Novelist lays himself bare in a moving account of a terminated pregnancy.
Sunday Times