‘Highly ambitious… Kick-ass, whip-smart and with “a tongue like a catapult”, Gael belongs to a venerable tradition of feisty heroines…readers are going to love her.’
Orchid & the WaspCaoilinn Hughes
‘A gem of a novel’ Elle
‘A winning debut’ The New Yorker
‘Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.’ Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of All the Light We Cannot See
WINNER OF THE COLLYER BRISTOW PRIZE * SHORTLISTED FOR THE BUTLER LITERARY AWARD * SHORTLISTED FOR THE HEARST BIG BOOK AWARDS 2019 * LONGLISTED FOR THE AUTHORS’ CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD * LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2020
Orchids are liars.
They use pheromones to lure wasps in to become unwitting pollinators. In nature, such exploitative systems are rare. In society, they are everywhere.
Gael Foess is a heroine of mythic proportions. Raised in Dublin by single-minded, careerist parents, she learns from an early age how ideals and ambitions can be compromised. When her father walks out during the 2008 crash, her family falls apart. Determined to build a life-raft for her loved ones, Gael sets off for London and New York, proving how little it takes to game the system – but is it really exploitation if the loser isn’t aware of what he’s losing?
Written in electric, heart-stopping prose, Orchid & the Wasp is a dazzlingly original novel about gigantic ambitions and social upheaval, chewing through sexuality, class and politics with joyful, anarchic fury, announcing Caoilinn Hughes as a rising star of literary fiction.
‘Fiercely bright and moves like a bullet train.’
‘A remarkable, propulsive debut novel... No precis can adequately convey the novel’s startling, impressionistic prose, nor its corrosive humour. Jewels of observation glitter amid the earthy gags... Exuberant... it zings with energy, ambition and daring.’
‘Ireland produces a new literary star at a rate of one a month, it seems; first among equals for 2018, however, has to be Caoilinn Hughes.’
'Original, clever, and frequently very funny. Hughes's luminescence is staggering, breezing a determined young Gael from Dublin to London to New York and back again with scarcely a breath drawn. Brilliant.'
‘Hugely ambitious and richly inventive.’
‘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.’
‘A gem of a debut about the way we live now.’
‘Luminous…sparkles with acuity and concision.... [Gael] is an indomitable, highly adaptable character who can navigate through tumultuous times and wildly disparate environments with ingenuity and grit.’
‘Extraordinary… It's a mesmeric, immersive, often hilarious reading experience, driven by the force of the imagery-rich writing and the cast of distinctive characters… Asking complicated questions about meritocracy, Hughes explores the relationship between art and capitalism, art and ownership, art and authenticity, art and the gatekeepers of art.’
‘Caoilinn Hughes is the real thing – an urgent, funny, painstaking and heartfelt writer. Orchid & the Wasp is a startling debut full of the moral complexity, grief and strange bewilderments of humanity. As the world spins ever more quickly in response to the demands of grifters, parasites and liars, this book offers a troubling, beautiful and wise response.’
‘Orchid & the Wasp is this year's Conversations with Friends... Ambitious, full-bodied and fresh. Hughes casts her unique gaze, her artistic, analytical and emotional intelligence, on us, not just in Ireland, but our capitalist world and the personal, political and social ramifications implicit in our acquiescence to, or indeed, championing of, its values. Bring Gael back, please.’