Rescued from the squalor of a Rumanian orphanage, and adopted by the rural community of west Mayo, the child that is named J. J. O'Malley should have grown up happy. The boy has no gift for it, though, and his new life has a brutal way of giving him plenty to be unhappy about. After a sudden tragedy, J. J. suffers a catastrophic mental breakdown. Unable to live with himself, he volunteers for an improbable government project exploring the possibility of using deep coma as a future option within the EU penal system. When his coma goes online the nation turns to watch, and J. J. is quickly elevated to the status of cultural icon. Five narrators - his father, neighbour, teacher, public representative, and sweetheart - tell us the true story of his life, and try to give some clue as to why he is the way he is now: floating in a maintained coma on a prison ship off the west coast of Ireland.
Mike McCormack comes from the west of Ireland and currently lives in Galway. He is the author of two previous books, Getting it in the Head, which won various awards, including the Rooney Prize, and Crowe's Requiem.