Carl Shuker

The Royal Free

210mm x 138mm
7 November 2024

Available for pre-order only. Available from 7th Nov 2024

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Equal parts workplace comedy, home invasion thriller and literary conundrum, The Royal Free is an exuberant, dark, wildly entertaining novel about death and copy editing – by the author of the acclaimed A Mistake.

James Ballard is a recently bereaved single father to a baby daughter, and a medical editor tasked with saving the ‘third oldest medical journal in the world’, the Royal London Journal of Medicine, from the mistakes no one else notices – the misplaced apostrophes, the Freudian misspelling, the wrong subtype of an influenza strain (H2N1 or H5N1?). His job is utterly boring, but – or so he tells himself – totally crucial: the Royal London is a stronghold of care for the human body, a bastion of humanism in a disintegrating world. In the London outside of the office, the prognosis for the body politic is bad: civic unrest is poised on the brink of riots.

Attempting to grieve for his lost young wife, while haunted by a group of violent North London teenagers in a collapsing city, James is brought to crisis.

Praise for A Mistake

A Mistake is the novel at its visceral and emotional best. This is the most compelling book I’ve read in years. It pulls you along at breakneck speed through questions of failure, exposure and manners. Shuker reinvents the form with every novel and A Mistake is a masterpiece which feels more like a body than a book – the life pumps and glugs and flexes inside its pages.’ —Pip Adam

‘A razor sharp and compelling novel from a singular, sophisticated literary voice in contemporary New Zealand fiction.’ —Kiran Dass

‘A masterful dissection of truth and fallibility, hubris and high-minded sexism, in the form of a literary thriller.’ —Judges’ comments, Ockham NZ Book Awards

Carl Shuker is a former editor at the British Medical Journal and the author of five previous novels: A Mistake (Te Herenga Waka University Press and Counterpoint, 2019); Anti Lebanon (Counterpoint, 2013); Three Novellas for a Novel (2008; Mansfield Road Press, 2011); The Lazy Boys (Counterpoint, 2006); and The Method Actors (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005), winner of the Prize in Modern Letters in 2006. He lives in Wellington with his wife and two children.

Cover: Keely O'Shannessy

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