Mayflies: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A beautiful heartbreaker of a novel. Filled with both the joyful exuberance & innocent carelessness of youth, as well as the bottomless well of grief that comes with losing that once-in-a-lifetime friend. BFFs Tully and Jimmy are both diamonds of unusual rarity – friends we all wish we had or could ourselves be. Yes, this is a novel about the bonds of “male friendship” but don’t nail it down so easily. The grace that this story is told with is unparalleled in most things I’ve read. And god it’s funny. If you liked Tin Man by Sarah Winman or are looking for a good tale of raucous Scottish lads in the 80’s... well then.   -sm

— From Seth's Picks


An unforgettable coming-of-age novel that becomes a profound mediation on life, death, and lifelong friendship.

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently.

Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news--news that forces the life-long friends to confront their own mortality head-on. What follows is an incredibly moving examination of the responsibilities and obligations we have to those we love. Mayflies is at once a finely-tuned drama about the delicacy and impermanence of human connection and an urgent inquiry into some of the most important questions of all: Who are we? What do we owe to our friends? And what does it mean to love another person amidst tragedy?

About the Author

ANDREW O'HAGAN was born in Glasgow. He has been nominated for the Booker Prize, was voted one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003, and he won the E. M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is Editor-at-Large of the London Review of Books and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Praise For…

"A beautiful ode to lost youth and male friendship written by one of our sharpest observers of modern masculinity." —Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

"Mayflies is one of those novels to press into the hands of friends. Beautifully written—wise, funny, poetic, alert to time, place and the ordinary human . . . I adored this book." Carol Ann Duffy

"Tender, heartfelt" The New York Times, New & Noteworthy

is entirely unexpected; a joyful, warm and heart-filling tribute to the million-petalled flower of male friendship. This book will last beyond these feverish times: it's not just a reminder that culture makes the worst things bearable, but a beautiful example of it in action." —The Times

"A rare thing: a life-enhancing novel about death. It will stay with you and you will want to read it again." Scotsman

"Life-loving and elegiac." Observer

"A delightful nostalgia trip of enduring teenage friendship . . . an affecting and evocative picture of an era and a relationship." Daily Telegraph

"O'Hagan has written a tight, delicate and soulful novel . . . about the power of enduring friendship." Sunday Times

"An assured and self-contained piece of theatre, in which love of many kinds is tested, Mayflies is rich in allusions, gracefully written, yet vigorous. . . . This is a book of high artistic ambition, and a reminder, were it needed, of the seriousness that fiction can address . . . O'Hagan's achievement is not to flinch from reality, nor to wallow in misery, but to fill the pages with roaring life, right up to the last kick of the ball." The Herald

"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone and read Andrew O'Hagan's new novel. Mayflies is a lifetime book." The Australian

Product Details
ISBN: 9780771068119
ISBN-10: 0771068115
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Pages: 288
Language: English