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The First Day


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About the Author

PHIL HARRISON's first feature film, The Good Man, was released in 2012. His earlier short, Even Gods, won the short film award at the Belfast, Galway, and Cork Film Festivals in 2011, and was short-listed for the best short script at the 2012 Irish Screenwriting Awards. He lives in Belfast. The First Day is his debut novel.


"Filmic in its scope and intensity, spanning 30 years and two continents, The First Day explores the intersection of faith and sexuality, and casts its Christian characters as intelligent and compelling, not caricatures. I hope we're in for more from this striking new voice in fiction.'
--Jamie Quatro, for The Guardian

"Harrison's debut is a fully engaging, well-written, very imaginative novel...The early part of the novel is written in powerful poetic prose, and with the detailed analysis of emotion, the understanding of how body and mind interact, strongly reminiscent of DH Lawrence...A wonderful debut."
--Irish Times

"Brilliantly written throughout...A truly excellent novel, on all counts...With tight, dispassionate, superbly controlled prose, Harrison channels the spirit of Don DeLillo or an unflinching yet compassionate investigation of matters of the human heart and--[like] Graham Greene--the heart of the matter."
--Irish Independent

"Written with burning intensity, this is a powerful novel about marriage, passion, anger, and guilt."
--Daily Mail (UK)

"Hugely impressive. A finely written tale which is original, compulsive, and at times chilling."
--Irish Examiner

"Screenwriter Harrison's absorbing debut will surprise readers with its ingenious plot twists and nuanced characters. Though compared with the work of Albert Camus and D.H. Lawrence, Harrison's cinematic first novel stands on its own."
--Library Journal

"Harrison's elegant prose and deeply felt characters create a novel with a fiercely beating heart."

"Harrison's deeply disturbing, morally challenging first novel opens as Samuel Orr, a married Belfast preacher, falls headlong into a love affair with Anna, a young poet and student of Samuel Beckett...The first pages track the beginning of their affair and are an elegiac tribute to love...Harrison's remarkable writing elevates a story that is all the more powerful for its eschewing of easy answers and resolution."
--Publishers Weekly

"Harrison's first novel is a quiet yet suspenseful look at the lasting repercussions of traumatic events...[His] writing is lyrical and engaging throughout, and he does an excellent job of building tension...The First Day is an impressive debut."

"After years in the wilderness, the past decade has seen a massive upswell of literary talent emerging from Northern Ireland...Harrison writes well and brings Belfast and the sectarian conflict vividly to life."
--Catholic Herald

"When you read a novel cover to cover in one day, you know it's something exceptional."
--John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

"Terrific. The First Day is expanding and expanding all the time, like its own model universe...Marvelous."
--Sebastian Barry, author of Days Without End, winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year

"Crisp, spare, lean and compelling. An auspicious debut."
--Patrick McCabe, author of Booker shortlisted The Butcher Boy

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