Pretend I'm Dead

Pages: 240
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

Pretend I'm Dead

Jen Beagin

Mary Karr meets Miranda July in this hilarious debut about a young woman's quest for self-acceptance and belonging
9781786074294 (5 Jul 2018)
RRP £12.99
9781786074942 (7 Feb 2019)
RRP £8.99

The Book



Jen Beagin's brilliant, off-beat and deeply moving novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona - almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift and cleaning houses to get by. Volunteering for a needle-exchange programme, she falls for a regular she calls Mr Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.

In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her - the pyjama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she's trying to disentangle herself, and the crushing legacy of the past she left behind.

The story of Mona's journey to find her place in the world is at once fearless and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunning, one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 240
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has published stories in Juked and Faultline, among other journals and literary magazines. In 2017, she was awarded a prestigious Whiting Award for her debut novel Pretend I'm Dead. She lives in New York.


'A bright, brittle achievement.'

- The Spectator

Eat, Pray, Love meets Beauty And The Beast.'

- Cosmopolitan

‘I am rollicking through Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin, which is one of the funniest, most twisted and freshest things I've read in a long time. It follows the fortunes of Mona, who cleans houses and falls for a man she calls Mr Disgusting. Beagin combines deep compassion and irreverent humour to create characters with nasty, wonderful, human flaws.'

- Jess Kidd, Observer

‘Remarkable… turns laugh-out-loud funny and deeply affecting... Wiping the floor with other, more hyped debuts this year, Pretend I'm Dead should clean up with readers and awards lists alike.'

- Irish Times

‘It's Mona's ballsy, kickass voice that makes this novel tick. Unreliable, sharply observant and funny, she recounts her journey of self-discovery in a way that is immediate and intriguing.'

- Daily Mail

‘Frank and unflinching... This book invaded my dreams, took over my conversation, and otherwise seduced me totally.'

- Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End

‘This novel had me rooting for its protagonist, Mona, 23 and cleaning houses to get by as she tries to figure her life out, from the very beginning…one of the most moving novels I've read all year.'

- Elle

‘How can you resist a love story in which the object of desire is named Mr. Disgusting? Like Denis Johnson, Jen Beagin is able to find humanity and wonder (and yes, love) in some of the most forlorn and hopeless corners of our world.'

- Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children

‘Mona is one of the best characters I have read recently. She's damaged for sure but hilarious and forthright and fascinating. I loved this book and can't wait to read more from the author, highly recommend this. A completely fresh voice.'

- Lesley Scott, Waterstones bookseller

‘One of the most anticipated literary debuts of the year... Pretend I'm Dead traces a cleaning woman's journey to self-acceptance in alternately warm, sharp, and deeply wise fashion.'

- Entertainment Weekly

‘Jen Beagin has one of the freshest voices I've read in years—funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate. I tore through Pretend I'm Dead with a deep sense of affection for all of its beautifully flawed characters and their bittersweet lives.'

- Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins

‘Sharp but empathetic... Clear-eyed and funny... What gives this novel its heart is Beagin's capacity for seeing... Beagin makes [her theme] fresh with her sly, funny, compassionate voice. This is a terrific debut. Singularly enjoyable.'

- Kirkus (starred review)

‘This book is Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on acid. Odd, funny... Just excellent!'

- Sara Wingfield, Goodreads

Pretend I'm Dead is a funny, smart and surprisingly deep novel that lures the reader - through humour and sharp, off-beat observation - to follow a character to rock bottom. Beagin's uncanny characters and wise voice lend a cushion for taking a seat on that rock, providing the company of a good friend so that readers will be glad to stay.'

- Caoilinn Hughes, author of Orchid & the Wasp

‘Beagin's debut is grungy and ribald, melancholic and funny. Throw in a little wisdom, schmaltz and a few useful housekeeping tips, and Pretend I'm Dead delivers a real bang for the buck.'

- Shelf Awareness

‘If nuanced, funny, dark, utterly unpretentious literature is your drug of choice, Jen Beagin's Pretend I'm Dead constitutes an epic score. Please enjoy responsibly.'

- Elisa Albert, author of After Birth

‘Pretend I'm Dead is utterly engaging, laugh-out-loud funny, and always compelling. Each sentence is alive, vibrant and quaking...fearless and bold.'

- Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Wonder Bread Summer

‘Funny, supremely candid, this debut hurt me perfectly on every page.'

- Ron Carlson, author of Return to Oakpine

Pretend I'm Dead is funny, weird, disturbing, and just a touch magical. Jen Beagin's novel will stare you down, mesmerize you, and dare you to laugh.'

- Annie Hartnett, author of Rabbit Cake

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