Jul 20, 2022

‘profoundly moving and shockingly beautiful’
Train Lord is published today by Penguin Michael Joseph

Oliver Mol’s

The astonishing true story of trust, pain, becoming lost, and finding a way back to yourself despite it all

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What happens when a writer can no longer write? What happens when pain is so intense that you question who you are and whether you can bear it any longer?

Oliver Mol was a successful, clever, healthy twenty-five-year old. Then one day the migraine started.

For ten months, the pain was constant, exacerbated by writing, reading, using computers, looking at phones or anything with a screen. Slowly he became a writer who could no longer write, and a person who could no longer communicate with the modern world. In literature, and life, Oliver began to disappear.

His doctors couldn't figure out how to fix him. He suffered a breakdown. And one evening, high on painkillers, Oliver Googled the only thing he could think of: 'full-time job, no experience, Sydney'. An ad for a train guard appeared and, desperate, Oliver took it.

For two years Oliver watched others live their lives, observing the minutia and intimacy of strangers brought together briefly and connected by the steady march of time.

Exquisitely written and bravely told, Train Lord is a searingly personal yet universal book, which asks what happens when your sense of self is suddenly destroyed, and how you get it back.

Oliver Mol is the author of the critically acclaimed Lion Attack!. He was the inaugural winner of the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers as well as the recipient of an Australian Council Grant. In 2020, the stage show of Train Lord proved a runaway success during the Sydney Fringe Season. Oliver grew up dividing his time between Texas and Brisbane and now lives in Sydney.



Praise for Train Lord


“Piercingly sad, shockingly beautiful. Train Lord is about pain and persistence. Oliver Mol swings on the gossamer threads that bind us to the world and reports what he sees below. He is uncompromising with himself and preternaturally perceptive about others. Mol maps the ruptures and repairs in connections between humans who are flawed and fallible, silly and hopeless and lovable and doing their best. This is a profoundly moving work by a stellar writer”

Michael Winkler - author Grimmish (Puncher & Wattmann) and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin


“Oliver Mol’s writing is beautiful and direct, something steady as a rail-carriage but often something stranger, miraculous, a ufo moving from pain to joy at breakneck speed. Writing through illness and heartbreak and work, Train Lord is a book that speaks to anyone who’s gone to the darker side of life and still come out alive”

Paul Dalla Rosa - author of An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life (Allen & Unwin / Serpent's Tails)


“A work of elemental force”

Amanda Lohrey - author of The Labyrinth (Winner of The Miles Franklin, Voss Literary Prize, Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction)


“A wounded writer’s account of coming to health through the trials of the working world, Train Lord also serves as a testament to the transformative power of art in times of trouble. Amidst a half-mad crowd of conductors and commuters, Mol’s narrator guides the reader through the searing subterrains of his private pain and doubt, all the while searching for the enigmatic source of the chronic migraines that torment him. Tender, ecstatic, and comedic by turns, Mol’s infectious energies as a born storyteller guide the reader along the electric lines of his inimitable prose like a beckoning light in the dark passages ahead”

Luke Carman - author An Elegant Young Man, Intimate Antipathies, An Ordinary Ecstasy


“Oliver Mol's writing is addictive with its heart-on-sleeve honesty and his clear, rhythmic, absolutely alive voice. Train Lord is a glorious, rare reading experience - it feels as though Mol himself is reading this out to you, looking you in the eye. How do we write about chronic pain and what it does to our mind, body, relationships, self-belief? Mol's constant looping back to people, places and thoughts nails the blur of chronology when it comes to pain and the memory of it. An unmissable book.   There are no lazy conflations between pain and art here. Mol shows us how in the moment, pain actually makes art near-impossible. It's in the messy aftermath that narrative stumbles out, and this is what Mol renders in a way that's so real, funny, sad and gorgeously candid”

Katherine Brabon - author The Memory Artist (Winner of The Australian/Vogel's Literary Prize) and The Shut Ins.


“Train Lord' is the book I've been waiting for all these years. A book about life, about pain and the power of love and literature. Read Train Lord and come on an all stops journey of the heart. I loved this book”

John Connell - author of The Cow Book, The Running Book, The Stream of Everything (Gill Books/Grants)

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