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Helen McClory’s second novel to be published by Polygon

  20 Jan '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Shiny dark licorice mind candy’ 

– Margaret Atwood on Helen’s short fiction

Our Polygon team have acquired Helen McClory’s second novel, Bitterhall. McClory has won acclaim internationally for her short fiction: Ali Smith chose story collection On the Edges of Vision as an ‘Observer Book of 2018’ writing, ‘[McClory’s] edgy stories transmit the strangeness of realities in a way that’s comforting. She’s a writer completely unafraid.’

Polygon has bought UK and Commonwealth (excl. Canada) English language rights from Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates, and will publish in Spring 2021.

Bitterhall is a story of obsession told between three narrators. In a darkening season in a Northern city, Daniel, Órla and Tom narrate the intersections of their lives, from a grimy flatshare, to future-world 3D printers, the history of the book, and a stolen nineteenth-century diary written by a dashing gentleman who may not be entirely dead. A Hallowe’en party leads to a series of entanglements, variously a longed-for sexual encounter clouded by madness, a betrayal, and a reality-destroying moment of possession.

Edward Crossan, Editor at Polygon, said: ‘Helen McClory is an exceptionally talented and imaginative author with a unique voice. I am thrilled that we have bought her new novel. Helen’s writing is sharp, playful and inventive. Bitterhall is all of these things and more: gothic and luminous, set firmly in literary tradition but propelling it forward. Her name is a welcome addition to the list.’

McClory is the author of two story collections, a debut novel The Flesh of the Peach (Freight, 2017) and, most recently, The Goldblum Variations (404 Ink/Penguin USA). Based in Edinburgh, she is a part-time lecturer at the University of Glasgow and co-founder of writing retreat Write Toscana. McClory said, ‘Polygon have brought out some of Scotland’s best writing, including the works of George Mackay Brown and Muriel Spark, two of my heroes. It’s a delight and an honour to have this novel published by them in Edinburgh.’

Praise for Helen McClory:

  • ‘Angela Carter for the millennial generation’ – Meena Kandasamy
  • Shiny dark licorice mind candy : nothing quite like them’ – Margaret Atwood on Helen’s short fiction
  • ‘Her edgy stories transmit the strangeness of realities in a way that’s comforting precisely because so unsettling. She’s a writer completely unafraid‘ – Ali Smith (on On the Edges of Vision, one of her books of the year in the Guardian).
  • ‘Her finest work to date, Mayhem & Death is a staggering achievement – a beguiling and essential work‘ – The Skinny
  • Bold and unflinching, McClory’s debut novel is A Girl is a Half-formed Thing meets Inside Llewyn Davis: A brutal, clear-eyed study of a failing artist that shatters our expectations of what a woman should be’ – Kirsty Logan


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