Will Self (Author)


In this collection of four linked stories, newly reissued by Grove, Will Self takes aim at the disease and decay that target the largest of human organs: the liver. Set in locales as toxic as a London drinking club and mundane as a clinic in an orderly Swiss city, the stories distill the hard lives of their subjects, whether alcoholic, drug addict, or cancer patient. In "Foie Humaine," set at the Plantation Club, it's always a Tuesday afternoon in midwinter, and the shivering denizens of this dusty realm spend their days observing its proprietor as he force-feeds the barman vodka-spiked beer. Joyce Beddoes, protagonist of "Leberkn del," has terminal liver cancer and is on her way to be euthanized in Zurich when, miraculously, her disease goes into remission. In "Prometheus," a young copywriter at London's most cutting-edge ad agency has his liver nibbled by a griffon thrice daily, but he's always in the pink the following morning and ready to make that killer pitch. If blood and bile flow through liverish London, the two arteries meet in "Birdy Num Num," where career junky Billy Chobham performs little services for the customers who gather to wait for the Man, while in his blood a virus pullulates. A moving portrayal of egos, appetites, and addictions, Liver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most talented minds working today.

Product Details

$16.00  $14.72
Grove Press
Publish Date
August 20, 2019
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.2 inches | 0.65 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Will Self is the author of many novels and books of nonfiction, including Great Apes; How the Dead Live, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year; The Butt, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction; Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Shark; and Phone. He lives in South London.


Praise for Liver

"Smart, beguiling and occasionally stomach-turning . . . Simultaneously Dickensian and Burroughsian; grotesque comedy narrated in ornate prose."--New York Times Book Review

"Ecstatically evoking miasma, Self's prose is feral in pace, always zeroing in for the kill."--New Yorker

"[Liver is] almost as charming as it is aggressive . . . These are for those who like their stories brainy, cunning, hard-edged and diabolical."--Washington Post

"Tremendous fun, and sometimes much more than that. Self has always had a blunt brilliance, but he's most interesting when he pauses to explore fragility, and not only to burst those bubbles. These stories are busy with stylistic experiment, high-concept in-jokes, verbal impasto and flights of fancy . . . which test the limits of narrative."--Guardian

"A handsomely presented collection of four interconnected novellas . . . Pickled, engorged, fatty, tumor-troubled, cirrhotic and variously damaged livers unite a cast of grotesques, saved from caricaturisation by lashings of significant detail . . . It is cerebral stuff, but its impact is positively visceral. Reading it is enough to make one feel jaundiced, bilious and sore-livered. This, by the way, is meant as a compliment to one of the most manically imaginative writers at work today."--Financial Times

"For all the extravagant, cartoonish hideousness of the worlds many of Self's characters inhabit--from Soho drinking clubs to Kensington crack houses--life remains something precious . . . Self's London has the qualities of the eponymous vital organ."--Independent

"All of Self's hallmarks are in place here: a prose style that scuds from the slangy to the hypertrophic and back; a keen sense of place; a sharp satirist's eye coldly cast on fashionable London; and a fondness for what might be called the High Concept"--Times Literary Supplement

"The reliably diabolical Self delivers four longish stories about decay, debauchery and deliverance . . . Self's parts function quite well together to produce a picture of putrid beauty."--Publishers Weekly

"Wit, furious energy, an idiosyncratic intellect and ornate, often strong language mark this British writer's darkly offbeat fiction . . . Brilliant and blistering."--Kirkus Reviews

"In his latest collection, Self again writes of drug addiction and egos and the destruction of the titular organ . . . Each story has a distinctive voice--Self employs linguistic bravado in all."--Library Journal