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Broken
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You thought your neighbours were bad? Wait till you meet the Oswalds. They're crass, cruel and seemingly untouchable. Until, that is, they go one step too far -- and the results begin to tear an entire community apart. Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more X-Box than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish father Bob, vicious bullies all of them, whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over their otherwise quiet suburban street. And yet terrifying though they undoubtedly are, the stiletto-wearing, cider-swilling Oswald girls are also sexy -- so when Saskia asks shy, virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car, he can't believe his luck. Too bad that Saskia can't keep her big mouth shut. When, after a quick fumble, she broadcasts Rick's deficiencies to anyone who will listen, it puts ideas into her younger sister's silly head -- ideas that will see Rick dragged off to prison, humiliated, and ultimately, in his father's words, 'broken' by the experience. From her hospital bed, Skunk guides us through the events that follow, as Saskia's small act of thoughtlessness slowly spreads through the neighbourhood in a web of increasing violence. Skunk watches as her shabby, hardworking father finds love, only for her courageous, idealistic teacher to lose it; as poor 'Broken' Buckley descends into madness, while across the street her brother Jed makes his first adolescent forays into sex; and as her own gentle romance with soft-hearted, tough-talking Dillon struggles to survive against a backdrop that seamlessly combines the sublime and the ridiculous. As we inch ever closer to the mystery behind her coma, Skunk's innocence becomes a beacon by which we navigate a world as comic as it is tragic, and as effortlessly engaging as it is ultimately uplifting, in this brilliant and utterly original debut novel. Key title / An utterly original, totally compelling debut novel, written in a genuinely fresh and distinctively British voice. / Film rights to 'Broken' have been optioned by BBC films. The script is in development with the same team behind the critically acclaimed and enormously successful 'Boy A'. / 'Broken' will appeal to anyone who watched and loved 'Shameless' for its intelligent combination of humour and genuine emotion, and to readers who enjoyed 'The Lovely Bones' and Mark Haddon. / 'Broken' will be the first of many novels by Daniel Clay, whose own story is almost as engaging as those he writes: he laboured for eight years without an agent until 'Broken' was found on a slush pile. / Provocative and thought-provoking, 'Broken' is ideal reading group material. / Competition: 'Shameless', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'

About the Author

Daniel Clay is thirty seven years old and married with no children. He lives in Hampshire in the UK.

Reviews

English writer Clay's disjointed debut traces the story of Skunk Cunningham, an 11-year-old girl living with her father, brother and au pair. One day, Skunk watches as local thug Bob Oswald beats teenager Rick Buckley. Bob, whose five daughters go to school with Skunk, is one-dimensionally horrible and has no qualms about bullying kids or teachers as he protects his daughters. Skunk and crew, meanwhile, spend their days in school steering clear of the Oswald girls, who are as psycho as their father. Between bouts of violence, things in the British suburb are quiet, and Rick becomes a virtual prisoner in his home, only to later emerge as a "broken" and violent beast. The novel is nearly plotless and overflows with generalized nastiness, and the grim proceedings, while initially discomforting, don't do anything except pile on and become banal. (Sept.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching' Laura Wilson, Guardian 'It's funny and sad and moving ! and ultimately very engaging.' Francesca Segal, Observer 'A seething indignation propels the narrative to its violent conclusion' Arena Praise from 'Amazon Vine' reviewers: 'A very good novel, well-written and compulsively readable.' 'This book grabbed me and I could not put it down!This book is shouting out to be read. It will make you laugh, cry and gasp with horror.' 'This is fantastic. Very disturbing, but so good.' 'Daniel Clay's first novel "Broken" may be set to achieve the same impact as [Iain] Banks's debut ["The Wasp Factory"] 25 years ago! I look forward to his next book.' 'I almost couldn't read the last 6-10 pages I was crying so much! ! I was totally hooked.' 'I just couldn't put it down! Having read "The Lovely Bones", I can see where comparisons can be drawn, but enjoyed this book more.' 'A surprisingly humorous, compassionate and empathic story!reminiscent of "Angela's Ashes" set in the present day!there is humour and warmth, and a surprisingly upbeat, satisfying ending.'

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