The Hard Shoulder | Granta

  • Published: 19/09/2002
  • ISBN: 9781862075290
  • 130x20mm
  • 224 pages

The Hard Shoulder

Christopher Petit

O’Grady comes home from jail to Kilburn weathering the onset of a harsh new climate. This is Mrs Thatcher’s Britain. It is a place he recognizes, but he feels lost in it. His estranged wife has moved on and up, out to the suburbs; the daughter he barely knew is living with a wealthy record producer. O’Grady lodges in his spinster sister’s dreary hotel. Alcohol and the random chances it brings begin to define his life. The only people who want to know him are aware that he is owed money by those for whom he took the fall. They offer him schemes, fantasies: he is expected to perform some action that will change lives. But O’Grady cannot make a decision and cannot act. The Hard Shoulder is an evocation of the grey avenues and pubs of Irish London at its most hopeless, a semi-criminal milieu of the lost: north-west London has never been more convincingly portrayed. Using and undermining the conventions of the thriller, Petit has written a book that deserves to stand alongside the best that the city has inspired.

The prose has an understated lilting beauty. The Hard Shoulder is a chill, crisp and eerie performance

Scotland on Sunday

Chris Petit writes with confidence, inviting the reader to breathe the smoke and smell of stale beer in a marginal and hopeless world ... he writes to great effect of the anger and loneliness of a man adrift in a world he does not recognise

Times Literary Supplement

A deliberately simple story of low-budget wheeling and dealing. An immaculately observed polythene-wrapped version of noir and a gently mocking anti-thriller that teases the conventions of the genre while deftly fulfilling our expectations

New Statesman

The Author

Christopher Petit is a novelist and film-maker. His work in film includes Radio On, Chinese Boxes and (with lain Sinclair) The Cardinal and the Corpse, The Falconer, Asylum and London Orbital. His first novel, Robinson, has been republished by Granta Books. He is also the author of The Psalm Killer and Back from the Dead. He lives in London.

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