Orchid & the Wasp

Pages: 352
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

Orchid & the Wasp

Caoilinn Hughes

An anarchic and hilarious portrait of a downwardly mobile family in post-crash Dublin
9781786074201 (7 Jun 2018)
RRP £12.99
9781786073655 (7 Jun 2018)
RRP £12.99

The Book


'Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.' - Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See 

A dazzlingly original debut set in Dublin, London and New York, exploring the ethical underbelly of contemporary society through the coming-of-age of an utterly singular heroine: Gael Foess

Orchid & the Wasp brings to life the charged, compulsive voice of Gael Foess - daughter of a self-interested investment banker and a once-formidable orchestral conductor, and sister to a vulnerable younger brother - as she strives to build a life raft in the midst of economic and familial collapse. Moving by wits alone, Gael cuts a swathe through the leather-lined, coke-dusted social clubs of London, the New York gallery scene and birth-throes of the Occupy movement. 

Written in heart-stoppingly vivid prose, Orchid & the Wasp is a modern-day Bildungsroman that chews through sexuality, class and contemporary politics and crackles with joyful fury and anarchic gall. It examines how we can fail our loved ones by what we want for them; what makes for a good life; what we are owed and what we must earn; and how events in our lives can turn us into people we never intended to be. A first novel of astonishing talent, Orchid & the Wasp announces Caoilinn Hughes as one of the most exciting literary writers working today.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 352
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Caoilinn Hughes is an Irish writer whose poetry collection Gathering Evidence won the Irish Times Shine/Strong Award and the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for both the Seamus Heaney Prize and the Pigott Poetry Prize. She is a fellow of the James Merrill Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation, and was awarded a Tin House Writers Workshop Scholarship for Summer 2017, a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, and The Ireland Funds Monaco Award. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Granta, POETRY, Best British Poetry, BBC Radio 3, The Rumpus and elsewhere. She divides her time between her native Ireland and the Netherlands.


Orchid & the Wasp is a gorgeous novel told in an onrush of wit and ferocity. Art-forging, smack-talking, long-distance-running Gael Foess, three times smarter than everyone around her, proves to be an unforgettable heroine, and her journey will rattle your most basic assumptions about money, ambition, and the nature of love. Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.

- Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See

‘An ambitious, richly inventive and highly entertaining account of the way we live now. Caoilinn Hughes writes with authority and insight, and her novel is as up-to-date as tomorrow's financial-page headlines.' 


- John Banville, author of The Sea

'Gael, the young heroine of Orchid & the Wasp, is a magnificent and assured creation, breathtakingly smart, never self-pitying, impossible for others to manage, my favorite discovery this year. Hughes's characters are rare, like no one you've read before. This is an entirely original novel, dazzling and beautiful, disturbingly cold and insistent.'

- David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide