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A Mistake

A Novel

List Price: $25.00

September 17, 2019 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 192 pages | ISBN 9781640092495
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In medicine, a single mistake in an otherwise spotless career can determine the rest of your life—even if the mistake was not your own

Elizabeth is a gifted surgeon—the only female consultant at her hospital. But while she operates on a young woman with life-threatening blood poisoning, something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of a new scheme to publicly report surgeons’ performance, her colleagues begin to close ranks, and Elizabeth’s life is thrown into disarray. Tough and abrasive, Elizabeth has survived and succeeded in this most demanding, palpably sexist field. But can she survive a single mistake?

A Mistake is a page-turning procedural thriller about powerful women working in challenging spheres. The novel examines how a survivor who has successfully navigated years of a culture of casual sexism and machismo finds herself suddenly in the fight of her life. When a mistake is life-threatening, who should ultimately be held responsible?

Carl Shuker has produced some of the finest writing on the physicality of medical intervention, where life-changing surgery is detailed moment by moment in a building emergency. A Mistake daringly illustrates the startling mix of the coolly intellectual and deeply personal inherent in the life and work of a surgeon.

CARL SHUKER is the author of four novels, including The Method Actors, The Lazy Boys, and Anti Lebanon. The Method Actors won the 2006 Prize in Modern Letters. He works for The British Medical Journal, one of the oldest medical journals in the world. He lived in Tokyo and London for many years and now lives in his home country, New Zealand, with his wife, the novelist Anna Smaill, and their two children.


Praise for A Mistake

“There’s a clinical orderliness in Shuker’s arrangement of ideas, an uncompromising quality—no soft bedside manner to spare the sensitive reader. Confident in what he knows he says just enough, in narrative so well calibrated he maintains the tension effortlessly. It’s as if he has absorbed Hemingway’s iceberg method, the spare, austere prose in which meaning is implicit. He’s able to convey cruelties, to deliver shocks and evoke the harshness of fate in a manner so deadpan the impact is powerful . . . There is complexity within the clarity and an excellent literary paradox in the prose: this is a story about chaos told with consummate, steely control.” —Charlotte Grimshaw, Landfall Review Online

The Method ActorsThree Novellas for a NovelThe Lazy BoysAnti Lebanon. You’d think Carl Shuker couldn’t get any better, but A Mistake is the novel at its visceral and emotional best. This is the most compelling book I’ve read in years. It pulls you along at breakneck speed through questions of failure, exposure, and manners. Shuker reinvents the form with every novel, and A Mistake is a masterpiece that feels more like a body than a book—the life pumps and glugs and flexes inside its pages.” —Pip Adam, author of The New Animals

Praise for The Method Actors

“Brash and fearless, The Method Actors is a self-consciously postmodern challenge to our perceived reality and its fictional depiction.” —New York Times Book Review

“A mesmerizing opus . . . a serious accomplishment.” —The AV Club

The Method Actors is a rich, complex, and accomplished novel.” —The Georgia Straight

“Edgy, appealing, smart, and a lot hipper than I’ll ever be.” —San Diego Union Tribune

Lost in Translation for the noir crowd: a carefully plotted tale of a decidedly postmodern bent.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Kiwi novelist Shuker’s debut follows a set of gaijin—young international 20-somethings who have gravitated to ultra hip, fast-forward Tokyo—as one of their number goes missing . . . Shuker’s dizzying debut shimmers with authentic detail, an uncanny, otherworldly sense of place and a cast of believably hardcore hipsters.” —Publishers Weekly

“Shuker brilliantly captures Tokyo’s edgy atmosphere and the cosmic loneliness of his characters in his overlong yet probing and imaginative debut novel, which possesses the frisson of Alex Garland’s The Beach and a profound moral valence. How do we distinguish between the roles people play and their authentic selves? How contrived is history? How do we live with the knowledge of horrors such as the Japanese atrocities? Shuker poses daunting questions of conscience and compassion.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“A tremendous stylist and a tremendous observer . . . again and again I stopped to admire particular sentences and paragraphs.” —Stephen Dobyns, author of The Church of Dead Girls

“This dense, ambitious, labyrinthine novel depicts the nuances of an outsider culture in a Japan so current it is slightly futuristic. An engrossing delight, richly imagined, in which cynicism and exuberance alternate in quick succession.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

“An extraordinarily ambitious and often brilliant first novel. I envy Shuker his future.” —David Markson, author of This is Not a Novel and Other Novels

The Method Actors brings secrets back from scary places. It’s composed of dazzle and panic and wisdom. It seems to me to inhabit a world that has continuities with those of, say, William Gibson or Thomas Pynchon, but that operates with a new intensity and seriousness.” —Bill Manhire, author of Some Things to Place in a Coffin

Praise for Anti Lebanon

Anti Lebanon is an extremely exciting book. It seems to suggest we can go anywhere with the novel, that it can contain anything. It’s masterful in its form and the story it tells is compelling, original and important.” —Pip Adam, Scoop Review of Books

“One cannot help but be captivated by the slow, mournful mood and atmosphere of Shuker’s Beirut. Combining a thriller and a horror story into a single melancholic narrative, Shuker has created a haunting and riveting account of war, loss, and exile.” —Publishers Weekly

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