The Glutton: A Novel
A New York Times EDITORS’ CHOICE | MOST ANTICIPATED by The Guardian • Paste Magazine • LitHub • The Millions • Library Journal
From the prizewinning author of The Manningtree Witches, a subversive historical novel set during the French Revolution, inspired by a young peasant boy turned showman, said to have been tormented and driven to murder by an all-consuming appetite.
“Obscenely beautiful…Every sentence is gorgeous...Powerful and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review
“There are few writers who can be truly likened to Hilary Mantel, but Blakemore is one.” —The Observer
1798, France. Nuns move along the dark corridors of a Versailles hospital where the young Sister Perpetué has been tasked with sitting with the patient who must always be watched. The man, gaunt, with his sallow skin and distended belly, is dying: they say he ate a golden fork, and that it’s killing him from the inside. But that’s not all—he is rumored to have done monstrous things in his attempts to sate an insatiable appetite…an appetite they say tortures him still.
Born in an impoverished village to a widowed young mother, Tarare was once overflowing with quiet affection: for the Baby Jesus and the many Saints, for his mother, for the plants and little creatures in the woods and fields around their house. He spends his days alone, observing the delicate charms of the countryside. But his world is not a gentle one—and soon, life as he knew it is violently upended. Tarare is pitched down a chaotic path through revolutionary France, left to the mercy of strangers, and increasingly, bottomlessly, ravenous.
This exhilarating, disquieting novel paints a richly imagined life for The Great Tarare, The Glutton of Lyon in 18th-century France: a world of desire, hunger and poverty; hope, chaos and survival. As in her cult hit The Manningtree Witches, Blakemore showcases her stunning lyricism and deep compassion for characters pushed to the edge of society in The Glutton, her most unputdownable work yet.
Praise for The Glutton: A Novel
“Obscenely beautiful…Every sentence is gorgeous…[The Glutton is] a novel of revolution, deeply socialist and feminist, exploring the privileges of class and gender, a novel preoccupied with bodies, their labor, the marks they make, the humanity within…Tarare’s restless hunger in revolutionary France feels very real, viscerally so, in 2023. One senses in it the dissatisfaction of living under capitalism; the hollows left by the billionaire class, which, like France’s monarchy, is a 'parasite with its mouthparts buried deep'; and our desperate disconnection, the longing to see and be seen…powerful and provocative.”—The New York Times Book Review
"Blakemore is a breathtakingly fine writer... she can conjure with equal force the beauty of the natural world and the deathbed stench of rotting wounds. There are few writers who can be truly likened to Hilary Mantel, but Blakemore is one: not only because Mantel wrote novels about both the French Revolution and the life of a human exhibit, but because Blakemore shares her rare ability to reanimate the past in a way that makes it knowable to us, while remaining true to itself."—The Observer
"One of the best books of the year... The Glutton is remarkable for its beautiful language, for its hallucinatory imagery, and for its ability to mingle these things with the world of 18th-century poor folk."—The Guardian
"Blakemore takes Tarare’s life, recorded only in a medical paper, and puts the meat on the bones. But what meat it is. Blood drips from every page as she creates a banquet of gorgeously crafted, unexpected images. You’ll find yourself turning them over in your mind for days."—Evening Standard
"Drawn on a real-life figure whose apparently insatiable (and reputedly even cannibalistic) appetites left his 18th-century contemporaries agog... Rivetingly inserting itself into the blanks of the historical record, this is a smart, endlessly stylish novel, glinting with sly intelligence and humour."—Daily Mail
"Excellent... Blakemore's writing is exceptional, saturated with the viscera of this life...Tarare doesn’t know his letters, but Blakemore gives him the yearning inner life of a poet: the sort of boy who as a child would escape his mother’s hut to watch the neighbours’ pigs sleep and wonder about their dreams."—The Telegraph
"[The Glutton] has the most visceral, haunting, and downright disturbing historical premises we’ve seen in a while."—Paste (most anticipated)
"The great gift of this novel is that Blakemore somehow never loses sight of the warm, thrumming humanity that is Tarare. He’s a man, he’s a monster, he’s a frightened boy and he’s a living myth. All of these aspects live through Blakemore’s lyrical, sweeping prose, making The Glutton a stunning, mesmeric novel of uncommon power."—BookPage (starred review)
"Atmospherically charged and written in eloquent and compassionate prose, this is a lusty feast."—Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"[Blakemore] deftly questions what terrible appetites develop when people are denied love and a place in the world.... In Blakemore’s skilled hands, Tarare becomes complex and fully human rather than an abject horror and historical footnote. Viseral and haunting."—Kirkus
"Gorgeous and brutal, striking and wise, The Glutton is, at its core, a rich story of the lengths we will go to find belonging. A lyrical and propulsive reimagined historical rendering that will strike a deep cord with today's readers. Like nothing else I've ever read. Absolutely outstanding."—Chelsea Bieker, author of Heartbroke
"An embarrassment of riches. A sensory assault fit to slap any reader awake with its gorgeous glut of baroque prose and wise, poised lessons on life, pleasure, class, desire, and love."—Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Dance Tree
"The Glutton contains some of the most striking writing I have read in a very long time. An audacious and humane study of desire, pain and tenderness; a remarkable book about a remarkable subject by a remarkable writer"—Keiran Goddard, author of Hourglass
"Can there be any human frailty beyond this author’s understanding? The Glutton is an extraordinary accomplishment, a truly horrible and truly glorious novel. I devoured it. AK Blakemore’s intelligence is tempered by a profound and merciful human compassion, and the tragic making and breaking of Tarare is going to be with me for quite some time. Heartbreaking."—Annie Garthwaite, author of Cecily