Reservoir 13

A Novel

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Book Description

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

A “fiercely intelligent . . . daring, and very moving” about an English village haunted by one family’s loss—for readers of The Virgin Suicides and Zadie Smith’s NW (George Saunders, The Paris Review Daily).

Midwinter in an English village. A teenage girl has gone missing. Everyone is called upon to join the search. The villagers fan out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on what is usually a place of peace. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

As the seasons unfold and the search for the missing girl goes on, there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together and those who break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a tragedy refuse to subside.

“Jon McGregor has revolutionized that most hallowed of mystery plots: the one where some foul deed takes place in a tranquil English village that . . . doesn’t feel so tranquil anymore. —The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Jon McGregor Author Photo
© Emma Ledwith

Praise For This Book


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Winner of the Costa Novel Award
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2017
Named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kirkus Reviews, & the Los Angeles Review

“McGregor's book achieves a visionary power . . . he has written a novel with a quiet but insistently demanding, even experimental form. The word 'collage' implies something static and finally fixed, but the beauty of Reservoir 13 is in fact rhythmic, musical, ceaselessly contrapuntal . . . A remarkable achievement [and a] subtle unravelling of what we think of as the conventional project of the novel.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker

“McGregor is a beautiful, controlled writer, who can convey the pathos of a life in a few lines. Despite the large cast of characters, each feels specific and real. . . . [An] unconventional but affecting novel.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Jon McGregor has revolutionized that most hallowed of mystery plots: the one where some foul deed takes place in a tranquil English village that, by the close of the case, doesn’t feel so tranquil anymore. . . . McGregor’s writing style is ingenious.”
—Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

“Disturbing, one–of–a–kind . . . Most books involving crime and foul play provide the consolation of some sort of resolution. But Mr. McGregor's novel, which was long–listed for this year's Man Booker Prize, shows how life, however unsettlingly, continues in the absence of such explanation.”
—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

“An intricate and absorbing mosaic–like structure of miniature stories, scenes and snapshots. . . . While Reservoir 13 starts out with the familiar hallmarks of a crime novel, it quickly develops into a quite different literary beast, one that acquires power and depth through bold form and style, not gripping drama and suspense . . . This is unconventional storytelling, a daring way to tell a tale, but one that yields haunting and stimulating results.”
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Fiercely intelligent . . . [An] astonishing new novel . . . strange, daring, and very moving . . . The book is a rare and dazzling feat of art that also (in my reading of it) outs us, in a gentle way, for a certain gratuitous drama–seeking tendency we all tend to have as readers—a tendency that makes it harder to see the very real, consequential, beautiful, and human–scaled dramas occurring all around is in real life, in every moment (in nature, in human affairs).”
—George Saunders, The Paris Review Daily

More Praise for Jon McGregor
“Jon McGregor is a writer who will make a significant stamp on world literature. In fact, he already has.”
—Colum McCann

“Jon McGregor writes with frightening intelligence and impeccable technique. Every page is a revelation.”
—Teju Cole

“Jon McGregor’s stories are full of unremarkable landscape, destabilizing drama, and people— pinned in place by themselves. But they gleam with endearing detail. His writing is unnerving, unconventional and lovely.”
—Leanne Shapton

“These stories are illuminated by Jon McGregor’s fearless and humane imagination. Both tragic and comic, they form a polyphonic portrait of a people and a place. Exhilarating.”
—Katie Kitamura

“Jon McGregor's uncanny stories linger long after you have finished them. He quietly inserts distinct, convincing voices into vivid and compelling landscapes.”
―Dana Spiotta