Dec 1, 2020

Big Girl Small Town enthusiastically endorsed by The Washington Post

Michelle Gallen’s

Michelle Gallen's Big Girl Small Town been shortlisted for this year's Costa Book Awards.
Nominated in the First Novel category, Northern Irish author Michelle Gallen's “highly original” small-town portrait of post Troubles Big Girl, Small Town (John Murray) is among 10 debut authors to be shortlisted in the category.

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In a rave review Ron Charles of The Washington Post says:

“This year’s publishing season is over. The important, noisy novels have all been released. The prizes have been awarded. The list of Best Books for 2020 has been posted. But hold the door! Make room for this late arrival from Dublin: an immensely lovable debut novel by Michelle Gallen called Big Girl, Small Town… [Majella’s] interior range is vast and illuminated by a prose style at once accessible and stippled with strangeness. There are so many scenes… that feel like literary alchemy. Again and again, with the raw elements of this cramped life, Gallen manages to evoke in us a wave of complex feelings. It’s the kind of magic you’ll feel lucky to find.”

And the Wall Street Journal ran a reviews calling Big Girl, Small Town:
“An inventively foulmouthed gem of a novel… with such deadpan wit that sentimentality doesn’t stand a chance… A novel that is, above all, an intimate portrait of a peculiar—and peculiarly resilient—woman who is fated to notice everything and forget nothing. With her specifically heightened awareness, Majella is a welcome addition to the diverse family of protagonists that includes young Christopher Boone in Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,’ Hesketh Lock in Liz Jensen’s ‘The Uninvited’ and Keiko in Sayaka Murata’s ‘Convenience Store Woman,’ all of whom perceive reality through a similar lens… In this oddly affecting novel of everyday defeats, [Majella’s] triumph is more thrilling than any army’s victory.”

Parade included it in their November 29th “Books We Love” column, calling it “a hysterically honest and moving portrait of a young girl on the autism spectrum, her irresponsible mother and the residents of a small Irish village just after the Troubles.”

Kirkus Reviews, in a fantastic profile of Michelle, said: “Majella O’Neill is an unlikely fictional heroine . . . but she’s absolutely winning, and readers will warm to this offbeat, thoroughly realized character.”

“Bawdy and bold, Big Girl, Small Town may focus on everyday activities, but its narrative voice, captivating protagonist and textured setting will keep readers eager to know what its eccentric cast of characters will do next… A pitch-perfect cynical dark comedy with an unexpected heart, Big Girl, Small Town will appeal to those looking for a grown-up Derry Girls with a literary edge.” - Shelf Awareness

“A fiercely funny coming of age story… Majella O’Neill is a hilarious commentator on her mundane life, and the setting has drawn comparisons to Derry Girls, but this novel is a different beast: smarter, sadder, deeper, but even more charming and wildly funny.”  “Amazon’s Best Books of December,” - Amazon Book Review

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in their list of “40 New Books for Holiday Gifts in 2020,” called Big Girl, Small Town a “brilliant comic novel.”

Big Girl, Small Town is also An Amazon Featured Debut, Editor’s Top Ten, & Best of the Month: Literature & Fiction for December, A December 2020 Indie Next List Pick.


In addition to been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the book was also shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and the Irish Book Award for Newcomer of the Year

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