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The Art of Failing

Notes from the Underdog

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster


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About The Book

An Observer book of the year

HAUNTED! By endless tiny humiliations.

STRUGGLING! To resurrect the corpse of his literary career.

ENSNARED! In a loving yet bamboozling marriage.

A man at odds with the universe, Anthony McGowan stumbles from one improbable fiasco to the next. On the mean streets of West Hampstead he reflects upon all that is at the heart of life itself – socks with holes, underwhelming packed lunches, broken washing machines, Kierkegaard, liver salts, British Library eccentricities and disapproving ladies on trains. In this chronicle of one man’s daily failures and disappointments, McGowan can’t help but speak his mind – with cringeworthy and hilarious results.

About The Author

Anthony McGowan is one of the most widely acclaimed young adult and children’s authors in the UK. His books have won numerous major awards. In 2020, he was awarded the CILIP Carnegie Medal for Lark. He was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal with Rook and won the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Catalyst Award for Henry Tumour. His YA novel The Knife that Killed Me was made into a critically-lauded film in 2014. Anthony lives in London, with his wife, two children and dog.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (October 9, 2018)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781786073549

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Raves and Reviews

‘The funniest book was Anthony McGowan’s The Art of Failing, which alternates self-mocking slapstick with flashes of weirdness reminiscent of Gogol.’

– Observer, Books of the Year

‘He fails spectacularly successfully it has to be said. If cringeworthy embarrassment were a superpower, Anthony would be an Avenger. It is Pepys’ diary if Pepys were a middle-aged, 21st-century Smiths fan with athlete’s foot. You’ll laugh and feel mild pity.’

– Matt Haig

‘Perfect to dip into for entertainingly bite-sized anecdotes.’

– Observer

’There is no sharper, funnier, cleverer writer in Britain today than Anthony McGowan.’

– Robert Twigger, author of Micromastery

'A book that will ultimately make you smile, and re-read'.

– BookBag

‘Humorously chronicles the quotidian frustrations, discomforts, and outright failures…faced over the course of one year… McGowan always brings a quirky and refreshing perspective… Entertaining.’

– Kirkus

‘A children’s book writer and school lecturer who swears like a sailor and adds smut wherever possible. McGowan’s as close to a Python character as one could reasonably fear. There’s no stereotyping Anthony McGowan.’

– San Francisco Review of Books

‘Consistently amusing, charming, and occasionally rather touching.’

– Big Issue

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