'Powerful...darkly adventurous... An Irish Cain and Abel.'
The Wild Laughter
Winner of the 2021 Encore AwardCaoilinn Hughes
‘A grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now… So original and vibrant.’ Encore Award Judges
FINALIST FOR THE AN POST IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2020, THE RTÉ RADIO 1 LISTENERS’ CHOICE AWARD 2020 & THE DALKEY EMERGING WRITER AWARD 2021
LONGLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE & THE i COMEDY WOMEN IN PRINT PRIZE, 2021
AN IRISH TIMES, IRISH SUNDAY TIMES, IRISH INDEPENDENT & SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR, 2020
It’s 2008, and the Celtic Tiger has left devastation in its wake. Brothers Hart and Cormac Black are waking up to a very different Ireland – one that widens the chasm between them and brings their beloved father to his knees. Facing a devastating choice that will put their livelihood, even their lives, on the line, the brothers soon learn that their biggest danger comes when there is nothing to lose.
A sharp snapshot of a family and a nation suddenly unmoored, this epic-in-miniature explores cowardice and sacrifice, faith rewarded and abandoned, the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we resist. Hilarious, poignant and utterly fresh, The Wild Laughter cements Caoilinn Hughes’ position as one of Ireland’s most audacious, nuanced and insightful young writers.
'A grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now... So original and vibrant.'
'I loved this book. So funny and bleak. I loved the madness, the tone, the ending, the realisation, The Third Policeman charge of the whole thing.'
'Exquisite prose and a distinctive portrayal of contemporary life in rural Ireland, conjuring laughter in the face of death with stunning originality.'
'A razor-sharp snapshot of a family and a nation in trouble, in language that is vital and richly inventive... A remarkable achievement... An exhilarating and moving story of an Ireland in disarray.'
'[A] riotous dark comedy…with much to relish in the crunchy vernacular and ribald humour… Hughes captures a feverish moment of country-wide crisis in a first-rate tale of family debt that isn’t only financial.'
'Brilliant. A hilarious, poetical black comedy... Do read it.'
‘The brothers’ relationship is a sharply rendered study in sibling rivalry… a very funny novel. There’s a spiky levity to dialogue and narration alike, with liberal sprinklings of snark, gallows humour and word play… The story’s elegiac quality is well served by Hughes’ distinctive prose, which blends earthy vernacular with belletristic high style… The Wild Laughter is celebratory in its own peculiar way, a sombre and sardonic paean to the “culchies” from whom nearly all of us are descended.’
'A talented writer who is skilled in character and language, Hughes plays masterfully with her syntax in this novel... [Her] poetry background rings true in this second novel, her lyrical voice and witty humour carrying the otherwise heavy story.'
'A finely tuned symphony... Hughes's dark comedy reads like a post-boom Beckett, if he'd been let run riot on a heart-scald of a potato farm in Co Roscommon... Dazzling doesn't even come close.'
'A dark, epic family saga about rural Ireland… The end is as shocking as it is inevitable...delivering a gut punch that both holds a mirror to Ireland’s recent past and warns of the dangers of being too in thrall to ancient history.'
'Some of the best moments in the novel come from minor characters... There's a darkness to this novel that makes it worthy of attention... It will be interesting to see where [Hughes'] obvious gifts take her next.'