‘Nobody believes what they see on TV, so they want to look for something else, an alternate reality, or a conspiracy theory, and it’s interesting to explore it, Twitter is fucking full of it, especially now. It’s no wonder people round here are into it, but you don’t have to read all that shit, just have some mushrooms and wander round Lidl off your tits.’
In these fourteen northern tales, Campbell takes us from the edgelands of Manchester to the cloistered villages of The Peak District, Northumberland and Scotland, and illuminates the lives of outsiders, misfits, loners and malcontents with an eye for the darkly comic. A wild-eyed man disturbs the banter in a genial bookshop. A fraught woman seeks to flee a collapsing reservoir. A failed academic finds solace in a crime writer’s favourite pub. A transit van killer stalks a railway footpath. A poet accused of plagiarism finds his life falling apart.
‘A 21st century Mancunian take on Post Office by Charles Bukowski. If you liked Post Office then you'll almost certainly like this.’ —Scott Pack
‘Campbell’s narrator is a young working-class man from Manchester. Throughout the novel he works a number of zero hours jobs, first at a mail-sorting depot, later at a number of libraries. There is nearly always something to dishearten our man, be it his duties, colleagues, managers, or just the constant uncertainty that comes with this kind of employment. Besides work, the narrator has a number of unsuccessful attempts at relationships, and sees the face of his city change, losing its character to gentrification. There’s a stop-start feel to reading the novel itself: as with zero hours work, the present moment is all, and even the immediate future uncertain.’ —David Hebblethwaite, David’s Book World
‘Zero Hours is the second volume of Neil Campbell’s Manchester trilogy. Honestly, if ever a novel deserved literary accolades and bouquets it’s this one. Zero Hours possesses more energy, grind and determination than a decade of Bookers. If there was any justice it should be jumping off the bookshelves.’ —Bookmunch
‘And yet, there is something within the tale that burrows into the mind of the reader – a spark of malcontent that demands attention. Within the ordinary life portrayed is a vibrancy, an insistence that good writing is worth pursuing. As readers we can be thankful that such attitudes persist amongst those whose voices should be heard.’ —Jackie Law, Neverimitate
‘Campbell writes with great compassion and humour about relationships, friends and family, people the narrator meets in the pub, students he supports, some work mates. It’s hard to explain why all this is so compelling but it just is.’ —Altrincham Word Fest
‘Neil Campbell’s Zero Hours is a poetic, emotionally-charged reflection of what it means to live and work in the city today. Its Mancunian voice is so distinct it’s not like reading a novel at all but like having a conversation with modernity itself. Zero Hours is sharp, funny and moving – a wonderful evocation of Manchester life.’ —Lee Rourke