H Gareth Gavin book launch at Blackwell’s

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Writer H Gareth Gavin.

NEVER WAS Book launch: H. Gareth Gavin in conversation with Andrew McMillan at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester 17 April 2023 Tickets from £3.00 — Book now

Head to Blackwell’s bookshop for the latest event in the Centre for New Writing live programme as Honor Gareth Gavin launches his second novel, Never Was, reading an extract and chatting about the work with Andrew McMillan, presented in association with the University of Manchester’s CfNW and Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture.

Described as ‘part hallucination, part queer bildungsroman’, H Gareth Gavin’s Never Was is out with Cipher Press, an independent publisher of queer fiction and non-fiction and champion of LGBTQIA+ writers in the UK and beyond. They call Never Was ‘a beautifully strange novel about grief, addiction, transmasculinity and class, taking us from a limbo of lost dreams to a small salt-mining town and exploring the way identity is both inherited and re-invented’.

Here’s the book blurb: Daniel sits on a clifftop in the aftermath of a party at Fin’s mansion, looking out over a junky sea. Daniel’s not sure why they’re there, or who Fin is, even though Fin seems to be somebody famous. To find out, Daniel must tell Fin the story of their childhood, going back to a small salt-mining town in The North, a visit from their now-estranged cousin Crystal, and the life and losses of their salt-miner father, Mika. Taking us from bus shelters to playgrounds to McDonalds, from the depth of a salt mine to a nightclub toilet, Daniel describes their world of soap operas, sunglasses, newspaper clippings and Princess Diana, steering Fin through the events that led up to The Great Subsidence, when their town and the mine that sustained it collapsed. As Daniel tells their story, they come to learn they’re in a place called Never Was, a limbo for lost dreams and disappointments, a landfill for things that never came to be, but also a place of change and transition. Dreamy, poignant, and revelatory, Never Was is a bold and inventive novel by an inimitable voice in literary fiction. Signed copies of the book will be available on the night.

Described as ‘part hallucination, part queer bildungsroman’, H Gareth Gavin’s Never Was is out with Cipher Press, an independent publisher of queer fiction and non-fiction and champion of LGBTQIA+ writers in the UK and beyond.

US author Jordy Rosenberg (Confessions Of The Fox) calls the book ‘an inimitable gem’ and says: ‘Otherworldly and hyperreal, Never Was is a mind-bending and totally beautiful wrestling match with trans and queer lust, the mineral lives of drug trips and extractive industries, and the mysterious alchemy of the people we’re thrown together with, whether in work or family or the undersides of towns. Nobody writes like Gavin.’

Originally from Birmingham, H Gareth Gavin is a creative writing lecturer at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing. He’s introducing Jen Calleja as she launches her debut novel, Vehicle, on 14 April. Midland: A Novel Out of Time (Penned In The Margins, 2014) was shortlisted for the 2015 Gordon Burn Prize and Funny Queer, a hand-sewn limited edition collection of stories, was published by the Aleph Press in 2021. His work has appeared in publications such as Hotel, Short Fiction, the Architectural Review and Prototype (Anthology 4), and he is also the author of a critical book exploring the encounter between early 20th-century literature and silent film. His short story ‘Home Death’,was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2019/20 and an essay on transmasculinity and femininity, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’, takes its title from a Muriel Spark ghost story and is collected in Queer Life, Queer Love (Muswell Press, 2021).

Andrew McMillan’s first collection, physical, was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award; it also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize, and his most recent collection (also published by Cape) is pandemonium. His debut novel, pity, will be published by Canongate, and to continue the ‘p’ theme, you may have caught him recently performing at Poets & Players. He teaches at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Never Was by H Gareth Gavin
Never Was by H Gareth Gavin

NEVER WAS Book launch: H. Gareth Gavin in conversation with Andrew McMillan at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester 17 April 2023 Tickets from £3.00 Book now

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