The Heart Broke In

A Novel

James Meek

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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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.

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The story doing the rounds at Ritchie Shepherd’s production company was accurate when it appeared inside the staff’s heads, when they hardly sensed it, let alone spoke it. It was like a faint stink, clear enough to notice, too trivial to mention. All through Teen Makeover’s autumn and spring seasons, when they clustered around Ritchie, asking him questions they already knew the answers to, cadging compliments and begging him to give their enemies a telling-off, they watched him. They saw he wasn’t as funny as before.

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James Meek talked to the AAP's What Are You Reading? campaign

James Meek talked to the AAP's What Are You Reading? campaign for Banned Books Week.

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Reviews

Praise for The Heart Broke In

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


In the Press

The ties that bind - FT.com
The Heart Broke In, by James Meek, Canongate, RRP£17.99 Farrar, Straus and Giroux, RRP$20, 550 pages With his 2005 novel The People’s Act of Love , James Meek, a former foreign correspondent in Russia, earned comparisons with Tolstoy and
- Financial Times

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Shelf Awareness
Welcome to the Web site for Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, the free e-mail newsletter dedicated to helping the people in stores, ...
- Shelf Awareness

‘The Last Viking’; ‘The Heart Broke In’; ‘Do the Movies Have a Future?’ - Boston.com
THE LAST VIKING: The Life of Roald Amundsen By Stephen R. Bown Da Capo, 384 pp., $27.50 The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was an international celebrity in his day, leading daring expeditions to
- The Boston Globe

The Book We're Talking About: 'The Heart Broke In' By James Meek
"The Heart Broke In" by James MeekFarrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00October 2, 2012 What is it about?It's an epic story of characters addicted to lies and truth, including Ritchie, an aging rocker and chronic cheater, and Bec, his sister who is on a quest to find a malaria vaccine.
- Huffington Post

Collisions with Strangeness: James Meek
British author and journalist James Meek talks process -- it involves spoiling paper -- and how experience informs his fiction.
- Publishers Weekly

PW Talks with James Meek
He’s an award-winning, internationally bestselling author, but this is his first visit to BEA. So do make James Meek feel welcome this morning at 9:30 a.m., when he signs his forthcoming novel, The Heart Broke In, for Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the Macmillan booth (3358).
- Publishers Weekly


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About the Author

James Meek

James Meek is an award-winning writer whose novels include The People’s Act of Love and We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. He lives in London.

James Meek

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James Meek

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Heart Broke In
A Novel
James Meek

Award

Costa Book Award - Shortlist, The Independent (UK) Best Books of the Year

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374709327
ISBN10: 0374709327
416 pages
$9.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2012
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374168711
ISBN10: 0374168717
6 x 9 inches, 416 pages
$28.00

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
October 2013
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250037770
ISBN10: 1250037778
6 x 9 inches, 416 pages
$16.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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