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Hamish Hamilton
30 May 2024
ISBN: 9780241617298
256 pages

From the publisher

Sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued, a multigenerational portrait of small-town life in Ireland from a refreshing new talent in literary fiction

'A bittersweet love letter to small-town Irish life over several generations, in the vein of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge' Irish Times

‘Full of disgrace, inherited trauma and family secrets. It will make you laugh - because if you didn't, you'd surely cry’ Aingeala Flannery

‘A caustically witty novel for anyone who ever wondered what the neighbours are really up to behind closed doors’ Jan Carson

Welcome to Ballyrowan.

This sleepy corner of rural Ireland may seem tranquil, but scratch the surface and you'll find a hotbed of gossip and intrigue - endless material for mouthing - and a town full of people only too happy to oblige in spreading the bad news.

Narrated by several generations of villagers, Mouthing traces the fortunes of one small community from the mid-20th century to the early 21st, in a series of highly confessional and darkly hilarious monologues. The good people of Ballyrowan delight in twisting the knife, in tormenting one another, in perfecting the art of schadenfreude. And, it becomes clear, none of them are entirely reliable witnesses.

As each character offers their version of 'the truth', upending our assumptions at every turn, we see how feuds are passed down through the generations, how families are estranged or reunited and fortunes made or lost, how strict social expectations loosen over decades (and how some things remain stubbornly unchanged). And how secret hopes and private sorrows, triumph and humiliation, pleasure and grief are all absorbed into the merciless chorus of mouthing.

Mouthing is an acerbic, unsentimental love letter to rural Irish life, where everyone knows everyone else's business and everyone has an opinion on it - where 'community' is both a lifeboat and a life sentence.