Cells: Memories for My Mother

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Product Details
$20.00  $18.60
Scribe Us
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Gavin McCrea is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Mrs Engels (2015) and The Sisters Mao (2021), both published by Scribe. His articles have appeared in The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Catapult, and LitHub.


"In its ungarnished prose and loud inner voice, Cells stitches raw memories with new meanings to craft a brilliant composite of a son's unexamined relationship with his mother. The memoir pairs McCrea's unspoken shame with his private sanctums to show how it's these cells - physical or fantastical - where we sometimes finally find the words to speak."
--Nathan Smith, The Saturday Paper

--Seán Hewitt, Sunday Independent

"A brave, raw, visceral memoir told with such acuity, insight, and compassion, I could barely put it down. Gavin McCrea's unflinching mapping of his family's struggles, his own journey towards individuation and self-realization, as well as his deep, conflicted love for his mother, is beautifully rendered, painful, and real. A stunning, memorable read."
--Lisa Harding, author of Bright Burning Things

"This is a book that brims with stored-up pain--and with a very particular kind of courage. For all its dark and sometimes brutal honesty, what the reader is going to remember here is the way that McCrea's prose fights on through his hurt to bring home pages that seem lit from within by love and beauty. A memoir that is as rewarding as it is undoubtedly challenging."
--Neil Bartlett, author of Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall and Address Book

"Cells is a compulsive tidal force of a book: detailed, vulnerable, and brave, it pulled me in swiftly and held me to the very end."
--Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide

"Reading Cells, I was struck by McCrea's generosity in interrogating personal histories as they relate to wider familial and social systems. Contemplating devotion and loss with revolutionary sensitivity, what results is a stunning work of emotion-mapping. Cells is a dazzling exploration of nuance; pondering the formative threads that piece together the self, sewing a new lineage of interconnectedness towards acceptance."
--Peter Scalpello, author of Limbic

"A life recollected in vivid scenes, Cells is both brutal and tender in its depiction of the relationships that shape a self. Leading the reader through moments of darkness and of luminosity alike, this is a work of intellect and eloquence, but also a work of great heart. I was deeply moved as I read, and so grateful that this book found its way to me."
--Doireann Ní Ghríofa, author of A Ghost in the Throat

"Using the fine brushstrokes of his relationship with his mother, Gavin McCrea creates a remarkable self-portrait which becomes, then, a portrait of our times. This memoir will comfortably sit alongside other great Irish memoirs of recent decades, not least the work of Nuala O'Faolain, Hugo Hamilton, and John McGahern. This is a brave book, beautifully written, fearless, vulnerable, self-aware, honest, and not without moments of intimate levity. McCrea is prepared to express his rage at how the world has unfurled around him, but he does so with delicacy and love and a daring sense of invention."
--Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon

"Honest, moving, raw, and unsparing this memoir makes you think and feel. With Cells, Gavin McCrea has established himself as one of Ireland's finest writers."
--Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son

"An unflinching memoir about interiority, in multiple senses of the word, and the ways in which shame and trauma inflect the spaces of our material lives. Gavin McCrea's writing is attentive and deeply intelligent; it teems with the life of its subject, refrains from glumness or easy answers, and all with an elegance that makes Cells a captivating read."
--Jack Parlett, author of Fire Island

"Raw, courageous, and heartfelt ... a brutal, tender book, and one which merits reading with all the same attention and care with which it is written."
--Totally Dublin

"[Q]uite fearlessly, McCrae lays it all bare ... [Cells is] brave; brilliantly written; almost unbearably raw and frank; but also tender and sweet."
--Peta Stavelli, NZ Booklovers

Praise forThe Sisters Mao:

"McCrea's portrait of Jiang Qing is a masterpiece of characterization: at once monstrous and pitiable. The Sisters Mao is dazzlingly clever and original."
--Antonia Senior, The Times

Praise for The Sisters Mao:

"The Sisters Mao is a spectacular novel, utterly enthralling and insightful; every voice is penetrating, dazzling. In spite of the setting, it is full of relevance for these times; it manages to be both historically authentic and thrillingly contemporary. Gavin is a writer of extraordinary talent, and I cannot think of a kind of reader who I would not recommend this novel to."
--Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Praise for The Sisters Mao:

"McCrea has conducted exceptionally deep research to conjure up nuanced, authentic portrayals of the worlds of the book--but the text carries his knowledge lightly, supporting rather than dominating the story. The Sisters Mao is the best sort of historical fiction; one that illuminates the contemporary moment with great insight. Profoundly brilliant, it will no doubt be a huge contender on the literary awards circuit, but also one that is pushed feverishly from reader to reader with excitement."
--Helen Cullen, The Irish Times

Praise for Mrs Engels:

"[Gavin McCrea] deserves praise for his command of voice in Mrs Engels ... This is the best kind of historical fiction--oozing period detail, set in a milieu populated by famous figures and events about which much is known, but seen through the eyes of a central character who, due to her illiteracy, left no ready access to her experience in the form of letters or diary entries: a rich and accomplished first novel."
--Lucy Scholes, The Independent