A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself (Hardcover)
This is the best novel I’ve read in a long time. I foresee rereading it from time to time for its wisdom, for companionship as I age, gleaning something new from it each time. I found the narrative style downright exciting—the short sentences, sentence fragments communicate ever so much to the reader. The characters are nameless: he, a son/husband/father; she, a daughter/mother/wife; and their son, the boy—everyman, woman, child. The challenges of marriage, but particularly parenthood, (which here include an Abortion and raising an Autistic child), and the resulting lifelong shame and guilt, are all presented with uncompromising honesty, but the book is also generously peppered with wonderfully dark humor (“A bad laugh even better than a good cry”). This is a novel that will resonate for parents, but also speaks volumes to the child in all of us, as it also captures those moments in which parents find themselves “breathless with love” for their child. I am in awe of this truly remarkable book.— From Jeanne's Picks
“There are some stories that require as much courage to write as they do art. Peter Ho Davies’s achingly honest, searingly comic portrait of fatherhood is just such a story...The world needs more stories like this one, more of this kind of courage, more of this kind of love.” —Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend
"There is nothing superfluous in these pages...A novel that...earns its place on the shelf alongside the frank and sometimes acerbic memoirs of Rachel Cusk and Anne Enright." —Claire Messud, Harper's
A heartbreaking, soul-baring novel about the repercussions of choice that “will strike a resonant chord with parents everywhere,” (starred Kirkus) from the award-winning author of The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes
A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself traces the complex consequences of one of the most personal yet public, intimate yet political experiences a family can have: to have a child, and conversely, the decision not to have a child. A first pregnancy is interrupted by test results at once catastrophic and uncertain. A second pregnancy ends in a fraught birth, a beloved child, the purgatory of further tests—and questions that reverberate down the years.
When does sorrow turn to shame?
When does love become labor?
When does chance become choice?
When does a diagnosis become destiny?
And when does fact become fiction?
This spare, graceful narrative chronicles the flux of parenthood, marriage, and the day-to-day practice of loving someone. As challenging as it is vulnerable, as furious as it is tender, as touching as it is darkly comic, Peter Ho Davies's new novel is an unprecedented depiction of fatherhood.
PETER HO DAVIES’s novel, The Fortunes, won the Anisfield-Wolf Award and the Chautauqua Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He is also the author of The Welsh Girl, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and a London Times best-seller, as well as two critically acclaimed collections of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Harpers, the Atlantic, the Paris Review, and Granta and has been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories.
One of USA Today's Best Books of the Year So Far
A New York Times Editors' Choice
A Book Riot January 2021 Book Recommendation
A Millions Most Anticipated Title of 2021
"Wise, bracingly honest...A reassuring reality check...Davies throws some new ingredients into the family casserole...Nameless characters can come across as coy, but here, anonymity adds a layer of intimacy. Davies’s characters could be anyone, even you...The all-access pass is exhilarating...The family does not live happily ever after. Instead, they find their footing in ritual and routine, in peaceful and predictable exhaustion, in the hardiest kind of love."
—Elisabeth Egan, New York Times Book Review
"Astute and heartbreaking but also witty."
—People, Book of the Week
"Gemlike...The heart of the novel, though, is a piercing depiction of a marriage under intense pressure – the fear for their child’s future, the struggle for intimacy, the “scorched whispers” the couple argues in. Resolution is important in novels, but it can be a cheat in novels about parenting. The anxiety might alleviate, Davies knows, but it never quite goes away."
—USA Today (3.5/4 stars)
"Short, concisely and poetically written."
—Good Morning America
"Davies treats twists of fate with clear-eyed realism, humor, and grace."
—The New Yorker
"There is nothing superfluous in these pages, and yet Davies, whose characters’ humor carries the reader through considerable agony, allows cheerfully for life’s banality...A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a novel about the comedy and travails of parenting a 'twice exceptional' child that earns its place on the shelf alongside the frank and sometimes acerbic memoirs of Rachel Cusk and Anne Enright."
—Claire Messud, Harper's
"[A] powerful account of fatherhood...At times, Davies’s autofiction has the easy cadence of a stand-up set...But this is a complicated story, told with fearless honesty. The prose is rueful, spare and matter-of-fact, but emotions churn beneath the clean surface. It can be very funny, but it can also stop you in your tracks."
"Piercing and expansive...A unique window into just how bewildering taking care of another human can be. Also of note is Davies’ stark and refreshingly realistic portrait of the couple’s marriage...A deftly written, bittersweet and thought-provoking book about the joys and sorrows of having kids (or not), staying married (and sometimes fantasizing about not) and ushering your own parents through old age."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"A candid look at fatherhood, the stresses a family undergoes when a child is born and difficult choices one must make in life, as well as the shame that can result...One can enjoy the raw, honest depictions, the intimate details, and the fact that the story moves forward despite minimal plotting."
"[Davies'] recollections fizz with tell-all voltage...Tender yet clear-eyed, this is a thoughtful, consistently intriguing book, covering a lot of ground in a short space."
"Award-winning writer Peter Ho Davies turns his unflinching gaze on parenthood...This lovely, slim novel that taps into the complexity and paradoxes of parenthood, distinctly from a father’s point of view. The book begins with a bang...The book overflows with striking observations, comic vignettes and loving descriptions of the choices one father makes as he raises his son. In a rare and refreshingly honest portrait of a family, Davies tackles fraught topics—abortion, marital discord, autism—while exploring the big questions of life, sex, mortality, mortality and love in all its forms."
—Aimee Molloy, The Berkshire Eagle
“There are some stories that require as much courage to write as they do art. Peter Ho Davies’s achingly honest, searingly comic portrait of fatherhood is just such a story. A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself enacts to profound effect the dark shames, fears, and absurdities that are an inescapable part of family life. The world needs more stories like this one, more of this kind of courage, more of this kind of love.”
—Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend
“A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a novel about love—not fake love that blots out all else, but real-life love that, like a rose window, allows all other emotions to pass through it: guilt, shame, fury, duty, sorrow. Peter Ho Davies has written a brilliant book about modern marriage and parenthood, about choice and its fallout, that is hilarious and devastating, both true-to-life and a comforting fractured parable for our time.”
—Elizabeth McCracken, bestselling author of Bowlaway
"I never miss a new book by Peter Ho Davies and A Lie Someone Told You About is his best yet. A taut, raw, clever work of autofiction with a real beating heart, this is the audacious tragicomic novel about fatherhood and long-term love we’ve been missing."
—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn and Gold Fame Citrus
"Peter Ho Davies has long written brilliantly about accidents of culpability and their winding trails. In A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself he has given us a stunning novel of family life, scrupulous and astute, full of home-truths in every sense. Another triumph by an author whose books I love."
—Joan Silber, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Improvement
"Ambitious…Davies’s bold tell-all policy makes for moving and compelling reading…A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is…admirable for the brave new things it has to say about shame, regret, fatherhood and love."
"Wry and tender...Finely observed details and emotional clarity...Ho Davies is very funny about the travails of early parenthood...A funny, tender, and unflinchingly honest account of fatherhood, of the ways it can wound you and confound you, but also of its potential for transcendent, transformative joy."
—Times Literary Supplement
"Davies's take on the highs and lows of marital life . . . is masterly . . . A bittersweet story, a tender and touching novel that's unafraid to wear its heart, and its humor, on its sleeve.”
“Excellent . . . A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a poetic meditation on the nature of regret and a couple’s enduring love through myriad difficulties. It’s a difficult but marvelous book.”
—BookPage, starred review
"Prose as spare as it is emotionally resonant...A tribute to Davies' skill and sensitivity...A radiant conclusion affirms the daunting cost and overwhelming rewards of raising a child. Perfectly observed and tremendously moving: This will strike a resonant chord with parents everywhere."
—Kirkus, starred review
“A raw, intimate look at a couple’s journey into parenthood . . . a resonant treatise on identity, family, grieving, writing, and ‘the taking and telling of other people’s stories.’”
—Booklist, starred review
"Davies’s meditation on the complexities of parenthood is at once celebration and absolution, finding truth in human contradictions."