Himself

A Novel

Himself

"[A] fast-paced yarn that nimbly soars above the Irish crime fiction genre Kidd clearly knows very well." —New York Times Book Review

“[A] supernaturally skillful debut.” —Vanity Fair

“A delicious, gratifying and ageless story.” —New York Journal of Books

Abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives a tip one night at the bar suggesting that foul play may have led to the disappearance of his mother, he decides to return to the rural Irish village where he was born to learn what really happened twenty-six years earlier.

From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony’s presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider’s ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of curiosity (the men), excitement (the women), and suspicion (the pious). It seems that his mother, Orla Sweeney, had left quite an impression on this little town—dearly beloved to some, a scourge and a menace to others. But who would have had reason to get rid of her for good?

Determined to find answers, Mahony solicits the help of brash pot-stirrer and retired actress Mrs. Cauley, and the two concoct an ingenious plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, some from beyond the grave. What begins as a personal mission gradually becomes a quiet revolution: a young man and his town uniting against corruption of power, against those who seek to freeze their small worlds in time, to quash the sinister tides of progress and modernity come hell or high water. But what those people seem to forget is that Mahony has the dead on his side....

Centering on a small town rife with secrets and propelled by a twisting-and-turning plot, Himself is a gem of a book, a darkly comic mystery, and a beautiful tribute to the magic of language, legacy, and storytelling.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501145179 | 
  • March 2017
List Price $35.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Himself includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

A charming ne’er-do-well returns to his haunted Irish hometown to uncover the truth about his mother in this “exceptional debut novel” (Publishers Weekly) and turns the town—and his life—upside down.

Having been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, Mahony assumed all his life that his mother wanted nothing to do with him. That is, until one night in a Dublin pub he receives an anonymous note implying that she may have been forced to give him up. Determined to find out what really happened, Mahony embarks on a pilgrimage back to his hometown, the rural village of Mulderrig. Neither he nor Mulderrig can possibly prepare for what’s in store . . .

A spectacular new addition to the grand Irish storytelling tradition by an author with “an imagination to die for” (The Guardian), Himself “will bring tears to your sorry eyes and joy to your hardened heart” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. The town of Mulderrig is haunted by ghosts that t see more

About the Author

Jess Kidd
Photograph © Travis McBride

Jess Kidd

Jess Kidd has a PhD in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s University. She was brought up as part of a large family from Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. She has written the acclaimed Himself and Mr. Flood's Last Resort. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories.

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