Daniel is a social worker in his thirties, raised in a council-flat in south London by a single-mother, he has never known his father, nor even his identity. His wife is in a psychiatric hospital, following a break-down, when a case of benefit fraud is referred to him, involving a man who lives in the flat in which he had lived as a child, the flat he abandoned untouched when his mother died of cancer over ten years ago. Amos, the claimant, who has claimed to have lost both his legs in an accident, turns out to be entirely fit and healthy, but his stories, (fantasties? lies?) of his life at sea, draw Daniel back to the flat again and again as he is seduced into a world of story reminiscent of Melville and Conrad. Amos' last tale, of when he killed a man, a fellow-sailor with whose sister he is in love, proves the most haunting of all. Is the story true, and if it is, is Amos Daniel's father? It is hard to compare this novel to anything else, but Murr's power of imagination and his fascination with stories, lies and madness are powerfully affecting and haunting. This novel announces him as a major talent.
The son of an Irish mother and a Lebanese father, Naeem Murr was born in London in 1964. He has lived in the US for a decade and currently teaches Creative Writing at Northwestern University in Chicago. His first novel, The Boy, was published by Fourth Estate, and in translation by eight European publishers, in 1998.