Fiction the free

Published on March 6th, 2014


The Free by Willy Vlautin

| Press reviews | Buy the book | Have your say |

Blurb: Leroy, a young, wounded, Iraq veteran, wakes to a rare moment of clarity, his senses flooded with the beauty of remembering who he is but the pain of realising it won’t last. When his attempt to end his half-life fails, he is taken to the local hospital where he is looked after by a nurse called Pauline, and visited by Freddie, the night-watchman from his group home for disabled men. As the stories of these three wounded characters circle and cross each other, we come to learn more of their lives. The father who caused her mother to abandon them both, and who Pauline loves and loathes in equal measure, the daughters Freddie yearns to be re-united with and, in a mysterious and frightening adventure story, the girlfriend Leroy dreams of protecting. (Faber & Faber, January 2014)

Kate Saunders, The Times

“The beauty of The Free lies in Vlautin’s unflinching, unsentimental writing; the characters here are wonderfully realised.”

Read full review

Jonathan McAloon, Literary Review

“Leroy’s morphine-fuelled narrative refreshes the other parts of the novel. This kind of thing can run the risk of superfluity or dissonance, but here it becomes a sophisticated device. In keeping with its dream-state, Leroy’s story shifts its logic from time to time, shedding or replacing certain details. Its unreal starkness makes us constantly reconsider the starkness of the reality in the rest of the novel.”

Read full review

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, The Financial Times

“This new work confirms him as an accomplished novelist, not just a rocker dabbling in the form. But its ambitious scope, balancing realism, fantasy and state-of-the-nation social comment, proves too much for the story to bear. Particularly problematic are Leroy’s violent, pulpy dream sequences, on the run with Jeanette, which read like a dull pastiche of Cormac Mc­Carthy.”

Read full review

Kate Clanchy, The Guardian

“It is love, in all-American, over-salted, extra-large portions, that in the end makes The Free original and compelling. Leroy’s narrative palls, as dream narratives so often do – they might have told Vlautin that in creative-writing school – but Freddie and particularly Pauline waddle triumphantly out of their heaps of shopping and stacks of bills as convincing, heroic people, and provide ample shoulders over which to peek at Vlautin’s blasted vision of the US.”

Read full review

Buy the book

Amazon | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones

Share Button
The Free by Willy Vlautin The Omnivore



Tags: , , , ,

Back to Top ↑