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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

Mona is twenty-three, emotionally adrift and cleaning houses to get by.

While handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a man she calls Mr Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways. 

In search of healing, she decamps to New Mexico for a fresh start, but always lurking just beneath the surface are the ghosts of her past, and the crushing legacy of a chaotic, destructive childhood. It seems running further away from her problems could just leave more inventive ways for them to find her. 


  • Publication date: February 7, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786074942
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 240
  • Publication date: July 5, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786074294
  • RRP: £12.99
  • Pages: 240
  • Publication date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786074300
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 240


‘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

'Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin is a dark, twisted and hilarious novel about a young woman slumming about the American West, hiding from her life as best she can, while working as a cleaning lady. I barked aloud with laughter throughout the entire story.'

Elizabeth Gilbert, Guardian

‘Rib-ticklingly funny-sad... [Beagin] works magic in the space between hilarity and heartbreak... Absurdly affecting.’

O Magazine Best Books of 2018

‘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.’


‘With her droll humor and hilarious (but also earnest) observations, the 24-year-old narrator of Pretend I’m Dead had us hooked from page one... Glide through Mona's series of bad decisions with her - she's a good companion.’

Refinery29,Best Books of 2018

‘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

'A bright, brittle achievement.'

The Spectator

‘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)

‘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

‘Beagin's work has been compared to Denis Johnson, which is high praise indeed, and totally deserved based on this smart, funny, darkly profound debut.’


Jen Beagin

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.

Author page

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