Bookseller Information

Publication Date
Publication Status
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Trim Size
216 x 135mm

Your Fault


Metro: Best Fiction of 2019

Longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize 2019

‘Elegant, unsparing, meticulously detailed novel in which a conscientious boy grows up with bedeviled parents. Where do men come from? They come from boys. Look again.’ —Margaret Atwood

‘A small masterpiece’ —Phil Baker, The Sunday Times

‘A terse, bitterly poignant novel about guilt and the art of retrospection’ —Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

‘If clarity of recollection is an art, Andrew Cowan is a master.’ —Jane Graham, Big Issue

Set in a 1960s English new town, Your Fault charts one boy’s childhood from first memory to first love. A year older in each chapter, Peter’s story is told to him by his future self as he attempts to recreate the optimism and futurism of the 1960s, and to reveal how that utopianism fares as it emerges into the Seventies. It’s an untold story of British working class experience, written with extraordinary precision and tenderness.

Praise for this Book

‘Beautifully crafted, unsettling and vivid, this book perfectly highlights the subtleties and mysteries of everyday life, creating a world which seems ordinary even while something ominous bubbles just beneath the surface. The narrative balances between a kind of universality and an arresting specificity, exploring the relationship between memory and guilt, as it builds towards its electrifying ending.’ —Emma Healey

‘Cowan’s writing is observant and unsentimental, wryly funny and tragic, and his portrait of post-war Britain finds humour and heart in the most unlikely details.’ —D. W. Wilson

‘Andrew Cowan’s latest novel is a brilliant guided tour of a childhood, full of his typically sharp insights into family tenderness and regret. Technically daring, emotionally rewarding, I haven’t read anything quite like it.’ —Richard Beard

‘This is an exceptional work of fiction.’ —Naomi Wood

Reviews of this Book

‘Your Fault is a novel written under the microscope. Both unnerving and witty, it manages to embrace every little detail of childhood in the sixties. From England’s World Cup win, to pavements littered with moulding dog dirt, Matchbox replica cars and digging for worms in the flower bed. Plus, some truly tender moments, like his mother pressing a flannel to Peter’s eyes as she pours cup after cup of warm water onto his head to rinse off the bath suds, before seeing him off for his first day at school. Andrew Cowan scrutinises each of these memories in an act of extraordinary craft.’ —Lee Wright, Head Stuff

‘Written in the second person singular, and with a chapter devoted to each year of Peter’s life from two to 13, this is a terse, bitterly poignant novel about guilt and the art of retrospection. Older Peter tussles with his more innocent, younger self, trying to freeze-frame moments from his childhood and, in doing so, stave off a horror that is about to alter his family story for ever.’ —Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

‘Elegant, unsparing, meticulously detailed novel in which a conscientious boy grows up with bedevilled parents. Where do men come from? They come from boys. Look again.’ —Margaret Atwood

‘Four things attracted me to Andrew Cowan’s Your Fault: its working class, ‘60s setting; its unusual structure; its length and its publisher, Salt Publishing whose list is never anything but interesting. Set in one of those new towns beloved by British town planners of the mid-twentieth century, Cowan’s novella has fifty-five-year-old Peter tell his story to himself, from his first memory in 1962 to the day his childhood ended.’ —Susan Osborne, A Life In Books

‘Cowan embraces every detail of the “buttery shades” of the Sixties with his trademark meticulousness, from the layout of the brand-new estate Peter lives on – “short terraces of four and six houses are oriented at a thirty-degree angle to the road” – to the rented television, the Tri-ang bricks, the ICI polyester slacks, the budgerigar (one in four British homes had one in 1966). Everything in this rented, soulless, modern house is neat and in its place, with furniture bought on HP, but his parents, especially his Maltese mother, Dolores, are not so easily controlled.’ —Markie Robson-Scott, The Tablet

Your Fault is a fascinating novel in which a man looks back on his childhood with the self-awareness denied him at the time, and in which the act of remembering matters as much as the events themselves. It’s the melancholic memoir of a 1960s childhood by Peter, the son of a Maltese mother and a much older British father living out an unhappy marriage in one of the English New Towns. Beginning in 1962, it progresses a year with each chapter, Peter becoming steadily more able to make sense of things, but it captures a child’s uncertainty and incomprehension of the adult world. It’s also a deadly accurate recreation of the period, making it a powerfully evocative, as well as skilfully executed, must-read.’ —Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

‘Corby writer Andrew Cowan made a big splash with his 2002 debut, coming-of-age tale Pig. His new novel, Your Fault, is just as good as that touching, insightful book. It begins with the adult Peter reminiscing with his two-year-old self, comparing how he once saw things and how he sees them in hindsight, with each chapter moving the story on a year. His parents’ troubled marriage, his gradual understanding of the fallibility of adults, his young self’s guilt and confusion as he navigates his way into teenagedom – all are portrayed with intelligence, honesty, and great tenderness. If clarity of recollection is an art, Andrew Cowan is a master.’ —Jane Graham, Big Issue

‘Slowly, traumatic details emerge, as the novel builds towards the final tragedy that lies just offstage in the future. Highly acclaimed for his first novel, Pig, and now the director of the creative-writing programme at the University of East Anglia, Cowan is a real craftsman. The quality of recall and, above all, the play with time, make this tightly focused book a small masterpiece.’ —Phil Baker, The Sunday Times

‘Nostalgia is mainly understood today as a bittersweet homesickness for a glorified past: one which the returner, beguiled by memory, can’t see as it really was. But when coined in 1688 by the Swiss doctor Johannes Hofer, it was the name for a manic disorder suffered by soldiers fighting abroad. There was nothing sweet about this bitterness. Your Fault, Andrew Cowan’s sixth novel, is relentless in its attempt at recollection of a vanished time, and perhaps for this reason accesses a painful past that comes with a very bitter notion of home.’ —Jonathan McAloon, Irish Times