Publication Date
Publication Status
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Trim Size
198 x 129mm

The Last Word


Shortlisted for the Portico Prize 2012.

Gloria, meet Stephen. He’s your dead brother’s best friend. He’s also a liar, and he doesn’t want to hand over your brother’s belongings. He’s got a hair collection, and he’s got somebody’s teeth hidden in a drawer. An inconvenient spider’s going to play a crucial part in your relationship. Oh yes, and someone – God knows who – is sending him letters claiming it’s his fault Max is dead.

Stephen, meet Gloria. She’s not good with people. She wants you to hand over all Max’s most precious stuff. She likes to steal things, she gate-crashes funerals, she’s going to force you to revisit some of the most painful moments in your life. And she doesn’t know who’s writing the weird letters you’re getting, but she tends to agree – she thinks it might be your fault her brother killed himself. Oh yes, and it’s down to her that you’re going to wind up in hospital, and all over the papers. Well, the Scarborough papers anyway. On the plus side – you might get to sleep with her.

You’re going to be together for one strange, eventful and occasionally horrifying week so … good luck.

Praise for this Book

‘Mark Illis is a great stylist: eloquent, graceful, quiet. His work has wonderful subtlety and surprising strength.’ —Anne Enright

Reviews of this Book

‘On Tender: Illis has an engaging style and his prose is vivid and inventively colloquial.’ —Times Literary Supplement

‘On Tender: Tender can mean loving. But in this coolly observed, meticulously crafted family drama, one is reminded that it also means damaged, and acutely vulnerable to further hurt.’ —The Independent

‘... this is an engaging novel of flawed and vulnerable individuals edging towards each other, and away again, in a lobster quadrille of tentativeness.’ —Jane Housham