The Heart Broke In

      James Meek

The Heart Broke In

From James Meek, the award-winning author of the international bestseller The People’s Act of Love, comes a rich and intricate novel about everything that matters to us now: children, celebrity, secrets and shame, the quest for youth, loyalty and betrayal, falls from grace, acts of terror, and the wonderful, terrible inescapability of family.

Ritchie Shepherd, an aging pop star and a producer of a reality show for teen talent, is starting to trip over his own lies. Maybe filming a documentary about his father, Captain Shepherd, a British soldier executed by Northern Irish guerrillas, will redeem him.

His sister, Bec, is getting closer and closer to a vaccine for malaria. When she’s not in Tanzania harvesting field samples, she’s peering through a microscope at her own blood to chart the risky treatment she’s testing on herself. She’s as addicted to honesty as Ritchie is to trickery.

Val Oatman is the editor of a powerful tabloid newspaper. The self-appointed conscience of the nation, scourge of hypocrites and cheats, he believes he will marry beautiful Bec.

Alex Comrie, a gene therapist (and formerly the drummer in Ritchie’s band), is battling his mortally ill uncle, a brilliant and domineering scientist, over whether Alex might actually have discovered a cure for aging. Alex, too, believes he will marry Bec.

Colum O’Donabháin has just been released from prison, having served a twenty-five-year sentence for putting a gun to Captain Shepherd’s head when he refused to give up an informer. He now writes poetry.

Their stories meet and tangle in this bighearted epic that is also shrewd, starkly funny, and utterly of the moment. The Heart Broke In is fiction with the reverberating resonance of truth.

From Bookforum

The problem with The Heart Broke In is that it's difficult to mount an exploration of moral uncertainty when the contrasts you're dealing in are so stark. While the novel can't quite support its intellectual agenda, it is a colorful and urgently paced work that does deserve this praise: It would have been impossible to predict. With all his energy and ambition, Meek seems determined to never write the same book twice. —Edmund Gordon

Review

Praise for *The Heart Broke In

*“James Meek’s new novel has all the urgent readability of his previous work combined with a wide-ranging vision of social and personal responsibility that’s very rare in current fiction. I suppose we could call it a moral thriller. Whatever we call it, I was enormously impressed.” —Philip Pullman

There is much to enjoy in this ambitious portrait of deeply human characters, grappling with how to live in the modern world, where science is capable of almost anything.” —*Publishers Weekly

“Meek’s latest novel is wall-to-wall substance but remains accessible and grounded in earthly humaneness with stunning characterization and boldly realized thematic roots in the universal pursuit of youth versus the questionable finality of death; in how wisdom can sustain, and knowledge in wicked hands destroy; and that as many bonds are forged with treachery as are broken. Meek guides readers through these depths, past intersections of biology and morality, science and art, with beauty and deftness.” Annie Bostrom, Booklist *(starred review)

Richly drawn characters behaving in unexpected ways make Meek’s latest a gem.” —*Kirkus Reviews

“Meek is a novelist of Dostoevskyan intensity and seriousness . . . The Heart Broke In is seldom less than compelling. It also has many terrific individual episodes. Meek is good on slightly messed-up family relations. He has a nice sense of the absurd . . . You have to admire the scope and ambition of this operatic saga.” —Theo Tait, The Guardian

This is a big juicy slab of a book, as thrilling and nourishing as a Victorian three-parter . . . A rich book, very much of the moment . . . It is a generous, kind book, and it is kindness, an immutable quality, that is presented here as the antidote to dogmatic moralising. Like Larkin’s Arundel tomb, The Heart Broke In proves our almost instinct almost true. What will survive of us is love.” —Wynn Wheldon, The Spectator

“James Meek is Britain’s answer to Don DeLillo . . . The Heart Broke In marks a deepening of the vision of The People’s Act of Love . . . Meek writes with taut control. The plot is dreamy, deceptive and allusive, packed with cues and clues . . . Halfway through, the heart breaks in, a real chronology begins, and cool, detached satire gives way to a complex meditation on death and time and the family.” —Brian Morton, The Independent

Juicy . . . [A] lively culture clash of a novel . . . A novel shimmering with black humour, which for the sheer verve of the writing deserves a long shelf life.” —Lucy Beresford, The Daily Telegraph

A readable addition to this justifiably acclaimed writer’s oeuvre . . . The biting wit and social satire that characterised We Are Now Beginning Our Descent manifests itself in this novel with an entertaining cast of minor characters . . . Here is a novelist writing fat, complex but readable novels that have something serious to say about the way we live now and the society we live in. Along with Philip Hensher, he is the nearest British fiction has to a John Irving.” —Louise Doughty, The Observer *(London)

Praise for *The People’s Act of Love

Remarkable . . . Richly informed and imagined . . . [An] ingenious, intricate novel, a meditation on grand ideas that is also a suspenseful page-turner.” —Boris Fishman, The New York Times Book Review

Magnificent . . . Heart-pounding . . . Original and breathtaking . . . An altogether soul-shaking novel, tightly mixing pathos and grandeur . . . Meek has created a tremendously impressive work of art, at once serious, upsetting and astonishingly moving.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

[No] comparisons, much less an inventory of genres, quite capture this novel’s propulsive force . . . Meek continually surprises with an image, a turn of phrase or an idea, sometimes several at once. Yet the richness of his thought never cloys, never congeals. More than anything else, this reviewer envies anyone who picks it up and enjoys the continual rations of delight this novel has to deal out.” —Jesse Berrett, San Francisco Chronicle

Spellbinding . . . A perfectly realised work . . . A beautifully written novel which, though set in the past, feels like the most contemporary fiction you’ll ever read . . . The People’s Act of Love has a timeless quality; it will be read, referenced, studied and talked about for years to come.” —Irvine Welsh, The Guardian*

Read online
  • 71

    We Are Now Beginning Our Descent

      James Meek

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent

James Meek’s masterful historical novel, The People’s Act of Love received accolades around the world, earning Meek comparisons to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, and Greene. We Are Now Beginning Our Descent is a tour de force of storytelling, furthering his reputation as one of the most exciting and original young novelists writing today.
Adam Kellas, a British journalist, would-be thriller novelist, and failed lover meets Astrid Walsh, a self-possessed, hard-charging reporter while the two are covering allied military operations in the Afghan mountains. After sharing one passionate night in a watchtower near a defunct airfield, Astrid disappears from Kellas’s life.
A year later, following a disastrous dinner party in London during which he destroys his few remaining friendships, Kellas receives a short, beseeching e-mail and hastily embarks on a trans-Atlantic journey to a small town near the Chesapeake Bay where he believes Astrid waits for him. Kellas envisions the fresh start that his new life with Astrid might offer, unaware that she may be harboring unsettling secrets of her own.
A passionate, incisive novel, We Are Now Beginning Our Descent lays bare the entwined hypocrisies, foibles, and desires of our age, and is a testament to the obsessive pull of love.



From Publishers Weekly

The author of The People's Act of Love returns with the midlife deconstruction of a reluctant war correspondent working in post-9/11 Afghanistan. What Scots journalist Adam Kellas truly wants is to be a bestselling novelist, but he watches aghast on 9/11 as the planned climax of his latest thriller-in-the-works becomes reality in lower Manhattan. Disappointed, he puts down his manuscript, takes an assignment in Afghanistan covering the subsequent war and falls for an American journalist, Astrid, who leads him into a dangerous blurring of the lines between observer and participant. On his return to the U.K., these conflicts boil over when Kellas attends a dinner party with his poet school chum Patrick M'Gurgan. The fallout—combined with a large advance offered on his next thriller (an imagined war between America and Europe)—leads Kellas on a wild journey to see Astrid, who's living near Chesapeake Bay. Meek's novel exhibits some irritating tendencies—a muddled narrative line, a romance with a few cloying moments and overindulgent digressions into philosophy—but Kellas's unraveling is deliciously enjoyable, and Meek's crafting of character and setting is often masterful. The result is a book that demands much patience from the reader, but delivers rewards in return. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

While a few critics thought We Are Now Beginning Our Descent a worthy successor to The People’s Act of Love, most of them felt that Meek’s second novel lacked focus. Certainly, his topics are interestingâ€"love during wartime, the guilty complicity of journalists and their subjects, the West’s power playsâ€"but, along with digressive subplots (and a few stock characters), they never coalesce into a compelling whole. Meeks does, however, exhibit flashes of beautiful writing, and his nuanced exploration of the blurring between collaborator and victim is fascinating. Yet most reviewers would agree with the St. Petersburg Times: “If only [Meeks] had worked on the plot and tightened the edges, this book would have been a meaningful addition to the glorious fiction of war journalism.”
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Read online
  • 63

    The People's Act of Love

      James Meek

The People's Act of Love

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005. 1919, Siberia. Deep in the unforgiving landscape a town lies under military rule, awaiting the remorseless assault of the Bolsheviks along the Trans-Siberian railway. Then Samarin arrives. Appearing from the woods with a tale of escape from an Arctic prison, he says he is being chased by a cannibal. Anna, a beautiful young widow, feels something for the new arrival. Then the local shaman is found dead and suspicion an terror engulf the little town . . .

Read online
  • 35

    The Museum of Doubt

      James Meek

The Museum of Doubt

The Museum of Doubt is a new collection of surreal and unnerving short stories from award-winning writer James Meek. The array of characters who populate Meek's vague and elusive worlds are driven by paranoia and doubts, as well as hopes and fears of things only half-glimpsed.

About the Author

James Meek writes for the Guardian, and contributes to the London Review of Books and Granta. In 2004 his reporting from Iraq and about Guantanamo Bay won a number of British and international awards. His recent novel, The People's Act of Love, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005, and has been translated into 22 languages. 

Read online
  • 35

    Private Island: Why Britian Now Belongs to Someone Else

      James Meek

Private Island: Why Britian Now Belongs to Someone Else

"The essential public good that Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and now Cameron sell is not power stations, or trains, or hospitals. It's the public itself. it's us."

In a little over a generation the bones and sinews of the British economy -- rail, energy, water, postal services, municipal housing -- have been sold to remote, unaccountable private owners, often from overseas. In a series of brilliant portraits the award-winning novelist and journalist James Meek shows how Britain's common wealth became private, and the impact it has had on us all: from the growing shortage of housing to spiralling energy bills.

Meek explores the human stories behind the incremental privatization of the nation over the last three decades. He shows how, as our national assets are sold, ordinary citizens are handed over to private tax-gatherers, and the greatest burden of taxes shifts to the poorest. In the end, it is not only public enterprises that have become private...
Read online
  • 10