The Art of Failing

Pages: 288
Subject: Humour
Imprint: Oneworld

The Art of Failing

Notes from the Underdog

Anthony McGowan

A laugh-out-loud chronicle of one man's daily failures and disappointments
9781786073549 (7 Jun 2018)
RRP £8.99 / US$14.99
9781786071828 (7 Sep 2017)
RRP £12.99 / US$16.99

The Book

An Observer book of the year

HAUNTED! By endless tiny humiliations.

STRUGGLING! To resurrect the corpse of his literary career.

ENSNARED! In a loving yet bamboozling marriage.

A man at odds with the universe, Anthony McGowan stumbles from one improbable fiasco to the next. On the mean streets of West Hampstead he reflects upon all that is at heart of life itself - holed socks, underwhelming packed lunches, broken washing machines, Kierkegaard, liver salts, British Library eccentricities and disapproving ladies on trains. In this chronicle of one man's daily failures and disappointments, McGowan can't help but speak his mind - with cringeworthy and hilarious results.

Additional Information

Subject Humour
Pages 288
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Anthony McGowan worked as a nightclub bouncer, civil servant and Open University tutor before he became an award-winning YA author. His The Knife that Killed Me became a film in 2013. He lives in Camden, north-west London, with his wife and two children.


‘The funniest book was Anthony McGowan's The Art of Failing, which alternates self-mocking slapstick with flashes of weirdness reminiscent of Gogol.'

- Observer, Books of the Year

‘He fails spectacularly successfully it has to be said. If cringe-worthy embarrassment were a superpower, Anthony would be an Avenger. It is Pepys' diary if Pepys were a middle-aged, 21st-century Smiths fan with athlete's foot. You'll laugh and feel mild pity.'

- Matt Haig

‘Perfect to dip into for entertainingly bite-sized anecdotes.'

- Observer

'There is no sharper, funnier, cleverer writer in Britain today than Anthony McGowan.'

- Robert Twigger, author of Micromastery

'A book that will ultimately make you smile, and re-read'.

- BookBag

‘Humorously chronicles the quotidian frustrations, discomforts, and outright failures…faced over the course of one year… McGowan always brings a quirky and refreshing perspective… Entertaining.'

- Kirkus

‘A children's book writer and school lecturer who swears like a sailor and adds smut wherever possible. McGowan's as close to a Python character as one could reasonably fear. There's no stereotyping Anthony McGowan.'

- San Francisco Review of Books

‘Consistently amusing, charming, and occasionally rather touching.'

- Big Issue