Traumatized by an accident which ‘involved something falling from the sky’ and leaves him eight and a half million pounds richer but hopelessly estranged from the world around him, Remainder’s hero spends his time and money obsessively reconstructing and re-enacting vaguely remembered scenes and situations from his past: a large building with piano music in the distance, the familiar smells and sounds of liver frying and spluttering, lethargic cats lounging on roofs until they tumble off them… But when this fails to quench his thirst for authenticity, he starts re-enacting more and more violent events, as his repetition addiction spirals out of control.
A darkly comic meditation on memory, identity and history, Remainder is a parable for modern times.
First published by Alma Books (UK) in 2006.
‘The storyline mesmerises in its imaginative brilliance’
The Sunday Telegraph
‘This is a refreshingly idiosyncratic, enjoyably intelligent read by a writer with ideas and talent.’
‘Remainder is an intelligent and absurd satire on consumer culture.’
‘Its minatory brilliance calls for classic status’
‘There are echoes of Beckett, Flann O’Brien too, perhaps, but in the end McCarthy has a precision, a surreal logic and a sly wit that is all his own. It will be a long time before you come across a stranger book, or a truer one.’
Rupert Thomson, The Observer
‘Remainder, with seamless prose, endlessly probes the surface of the “event”, its infinite elements, angles, perspectives, how it comes about, how it can be brought about again, then lived and relived in Ballardian orbits and Beckettian vibrations… It will remain with you long after you have felt compelled to re-read it.’
‘Strangely gripping… Remainder should be read (and, of course, reread) for its intelligence and humour.’
The Times Literary Supplement
‘This isn’t how we expect a novel to be, but it’s why it’s a very good novel indeed.’
London Review of Books
‘McCarthy delivers his wacky tale, an enquiry into authenticity and experience, with persuasive logic and a nice line in absurdist humour.’
‘…Enthralling, dotted with dark humour and undoubted originality.’
The Irish Times
‘A masterpiece waiting to happen – again and again and again.’
‘It is something of a relief to take up the minimalist, corrosively ironic Remainder…McCarthy evokes with chilling empathy the amnesiac’s obsessive-compulsive trance….Remainder is a novel that may appeal primarily to readers with interests in philosophy and the world of contemporary art, but McCarthy has written an inspired airborne ending.’
Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
‘Captivating and challenging….[Remainder] is a dizzying existential freefall that calls into aquestnio the very nature of identity. This is a book to be read and then reread, rich as it is with its insights, daring as it is with its contradictions.’
Los Angeles Times Books Review
‘Remainder doesn’t drag. In fact, it zooms. It’s compassionate and poignant. It’s even downwright exciting at times…Tom McCarthy manages not only to make us believe in but also care for a man who wants control over the uncontrollable.’
‘Hypnotically creepy…McCarthy’s portrait of the pursuit of total control is arresting, and he is alert to the blind amorality that under-lies it’.
The New Yorker
‘Eerie….In taut and chilly prose, McCarhty describes how [a] mission becomes a disturbing obsession…Shocking’.
‘One of the most bizarre stories in years….Remainder imagines a world in which habit – sadly, weirdly, sometimes beautifully – is all that remains for its poor hero. In McCarthy’s hands, it also makes for an unforgettable story’.
The Plain Dealer