By David Whitehouse
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451614220, 256pp.)
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
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Reminiscent of such novels as A Confederacy of Dunces and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Bed is a darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his twenty-fifth birthday.
Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal’s spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.
Narrated by Mal’s shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal’s subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion and his refusal to explain his motivations, Mal’s condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But Mal’s actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.
In Bed, David Whitehouse has put a magnifying glass on contemporary society. Hailed as a “momentous” (The Bookseller) debut in the UK, Bed is a mordantly funny and ultimately redemptive parable about mortality, obesity, celebrity, depression and the broken promises of adulthood. It is one of the most audacious debut novels in years.
DAVID WHITEHOUSE was born in 1981 in Nuneaton, England. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Independent, Esquire UK, and the Observer Magazine. He is currently an editor at the British magazine Heat. His first short film, The Archivist, produced by Warp Films and the BBC, is screening at film festivals worldwide. Whitehouse’s debut novel Bed was the winner of the inaugural Tell Hell with Prizes Award at the 2010 London Book Fair. Whitehouse lives in London.
“Outlandishly clever description… Ingenious one-liners… There’s no question that [David Whitehouse] is a writer to watch.”--Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A gorgeous, heartrending book, a book full of sentences so apt and well wrought, I sometimes had to read them twice.”--Henry Alford, San Francisco Chronicle
“Gorgeous writing… A deceptively effortless, haunting first novel.”--Boston Globe
“David Whitehouse has taken what might be a gimmicky hook in a lesser writer's hands--a romance triangulating around a bedridden media spectacle, the world's most obese man--and turned it, through lapidary prose, into a soulful meditation on a fraternal love as singular as it is universal.”--Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil
"Bed is a deftly-told wonder. Mr. Whitehouse's writing is accomplished, poetic, and deeply affecting."—Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned
“Staggering, inventive, and heartbreakingly beautiful.”—Esquire (UK)
“The best new novel I’ve read in ages.” —Sam Delaney, Guardian
"Sad and funny and pretty brilliant, too."--The Observer (UK)
"Masterful... [An] accomplished debut... [Whitehouse] maintains a tone of subtlety and grace, pulling a distinguished and accessible story out of a profoundly strange experience."--Publishers Weekly, starred review ("Pick of the Week")
“A totally extraordinary and original novel.”—Heat (UK)
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org