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Big Girl, Small Town
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Big Girl, Small Town

Meet Majella O’Neill, a heroine like no other, in this captivating Irish debut that has been called Milkman meets "Derry Girls"



Description

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up just after the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local chip shop, watching the regular customers come and go. She wears the same clothes each day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, microwaved at home after her shift ends), and binge-watches old DVDs of the same show (Dallas, best show on TV) from the comfort of her bed.

But underneath Majella’s seemingly ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. When Majella’s predictable existence is upended by the death of her granny, she comes to realize there may be more to life than the gossips of Aghybogey, the pub, and the chip shop. In fact, there just may be a whole big world outside her small town.

Told in a highly original voice, with a captivating heroine readers will love and root for, Big Girl, Small Town will appeal to fans of Sally Rooney, Ottessa Moshfegh, and accessible literary fiction with an edge.


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Testimonials


“I loved Majella from the first page. Our relatable heroine jumps off the page like an old friend. Utterly brilliant and deliciously hilarious! With humor, wit and beauty, Gallen subtly unveils a violence and conflict that lies beneath, exploring the legacy of the Troubles and the deeply felt effects through generations.”

Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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About the author


Michelle Gallen was born in County Tyrone in the mid 1970s and grew up during the Troubles, a few miles from the border between what she was told was the "Free" State and the "United" Kingdom. She studied English literature at Trinity College Dublin. Following a devastating brain injury in her mid-twenties, she co-founded three award-winning companies and won international recognition for digital innovation. She now lives in Dublin with her husband and kids. Big Girl, Small Town, her first novel, has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Irish Book Award for Newcomer of the Year, and the Comedy Women in Print Prize.

Reviews

“Irish newcomer Michelle Gallen debuts with a hysterically honest and moving portrait of a young girl on the autism spectrum, her irresponsible mother, and the residents of a small Irish village just after the Troubles.”

Parade

“[A] sensational debut . . . Gallen’s effortless immersion into a gritty, endlessly bittersweet world packs a dizzying punch.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A] darkly comic novel . . . Majella is a nuanced and complicated heroine . . . Fans of Sara Baume's novels and the Irish TV series "Derry Girls" will adore this complex, clever, and deeply moving debut novel.”

Booklist, starred review

“An irreverent portrait of small-town Northern Ireland . . . Uproariously funny.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Majella is a compelling character caught in a fascinating slice of time, and her journey is exquisitely rendered. With echoes of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine crossed with the 1990s-set sitcom "Derry Girls", this debut is recommended for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Emma Donoghue, and Sally Rooney”

Library Journal, starred review

“An inventively foulmouthed gem of a novel . . . Majella, our clear-eyed protagonist, is far more than a gifted wisecracker . . . Majella is a welcome addition to the diverse family of protagonists that includes young Christopher Boone in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Hesketh Lock in Liz Jensen’s The Uninvited, and Keiko in Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, all of whom perceive reality through a similar lens . . . In this oddly affecting novel of everyday defeats, [Majella’s] triumph is more thrilling than any army’s victory.”

The Wall Street Journal

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