The Coward (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The Coward is a spectacular dirtbag bildungsroman. Jarred is paralyzed after a car accident that killed a woman, and he blames himself for her death. In fact, blames himself for a lot of things; classic King Midas in reverse syndrome. Maybe the only person he blames more is his estranged, alcoholic father, under whose roof he’s now stuck living. Alas, Jarred can barely push himself down the block before he’s out of breath, so his tried and true method of running away from his problems is no longer a particularly viable option. Some soul-searching and past-confronting may be in order, as quick wit and anger are only going to carry him so far. Is he destined to spend the rest of his life as a living, breathing (and annoyed) cautionary tale / inspirational token to the able-bodied? How long can he dodge medical bill collectors? Could the barista at the fancy coffee shop actually be interested in him, like, that way? And can he reconcile with his father, finally mourn his mother, and learn not run out on the people who care about him? The Coward will probably not be the book for everybody – the voice is callous, sarcastic, and comes with quite the chip on the shoulder – but if your interest is piqued, I can promise this book will lend your heart some serious warmth by the end.

— Chris Lee



What's worse than being in a wheelchair?
Answer: Being a fuck-up in a wheelchair.

After a car accident Jarred discovers he'll never walk again. Confined to a 'giant roller-skate', he finds himself with neither money nor job. Worse still, he's forced to live back home with the father he hasn't spoken to in ten years.

Add in a shoplifting habit, an addiction to painkillers and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he's an idiot, it's a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control?

As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past - the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he's caused himself and others - and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don't always have to stay broken after all.

The Coward is about hurt and forgiveness. It's about how the world treats disabled people. And it's about how we write and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves about our lives - and try to find a happy ending.

About the Author

Jarred McGinnis is the co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council's International Literature Showcase. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in literary journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. He is an Associate Writer for Spread the Word, a fellow of the London Library's Emerging Writer Programme and a Writer-in-Residence for First Story. He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but mostly he inspires the able-bodied by using public transport and taking his daughters to the playground. He is currently living in France.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781838851538
ISBN-10: 1838851534
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English