A Shock

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction and The Goldsmiths Prize
A Guardian, New York Times, Spectator, Hot Press and White Review Book of the Year

A Shock inhabits the secret life of a city, its hidden energies. It dramatizes how patterns form and then disperse, how stories are made and relationships created . . . remarkable’ – Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn

In A Shock, a clutch of more or less loosely connected characters appear, disappear and reappear. They are all of them on the fringes of London life, often clinging on – to sanity or solvency or a story – by their fingertips.

Keith Ridgway, author of the acclaimed Hawthorn & Child, writes about people whose understanding of their own situation is only ever partial and fuzzy, who are consumed by emotions and anxieties and narratives, or the lack thereof, that they cannot master. He focuses on peripheral figures who mean well and to whom things happen, and happen confusingly, and his fictional strategies reflect this focus. In a deftly conjured high-wire act, Ridgway achieves the fine balance between the imperatives of drama and fidelity to his characters. The result is pin-sharp and often breathtaking.

‘Political, pertinent, spunky and funny, A Shock is a grand sweep of modern storytelling’ – June Caldwell, author of Room Little Darker
‘A Shock is a perfect, living circle of beauty and mystery, clearsighted and compassionate, and, at times, wonderfully funny’ – David Hayden, author of Darker With the Lights On

Critics Review

  • A Shock inhabits the secret life of a city, its hidden energies. It dramatizes how patterns form and then disperse, how stories are made and relationships created. Keith Ridgway offers his London a luminous glow, but his competing narratives are also rooted in a real place, with a remarkable sense of character and the shifting systems that make up his contemporary urban space

    Colm Tóibín
  • Like Finnegans Wake, only readable. Ridgway’s trick — no, his skill — is that the stories combine down-to-earth real-ism with an incremental sense of strange-ness. He seduces you, then smacks you over the head, abandoning you miles fromwhere you thought you’d be

    The Times
  • Ingeniously slippery — what initially looks like a collection of loosely linked short stories reveals itself to be an expertly constructed house of mirrors . . . A Shock is the kind of novel that rewards multiple readings, new echoes and connections revealing themselves each time. And, in the same way that one character describes the unsettling, near-hallucinatory side effects of doing certain drugs — ‘it’s just peripheral, corner of the eye stuff, movements’— you get the sense of myriad other lives unfolding around those described here, all tantalizingly out of sight

    New York Times Book Review
  • A sultry, steamy shock of a novel . . . a provocative collection of nine interlinked stories, jostled together like neighbours on a London street or regulars in a pub, which is where most of his characters cross paths

    The Spectator
  • Rich, funny . . . mysterious and challenging

    London Review of Books
  • Keith Ridgway’s gifts as a writer are many: his complex, vivid characters, his ability to create a humane and tender cityscape in an unfeeling metropolis, and to dig into our fallibilities and desires with such humour and compassion

    Sinéad Gleeson

More from the same

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.