The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes, Shortlisted for the Dalkey Emerging Writer Award 2021

Caoilinn Hughes’first novel, Orchid & the Wasp (2018), won the Collyer Bristow Prize 2019, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Awards and the Butler Literary Award, and longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and the International DUBLIN Literary Award 2020. Her poetry collection, Gathering Evidence (Carcanet 2014), won the Irish Times Strong/Shine Award. Her short fiction won The Moth Short Story Prize 2018, a 2019 O. Henry Prize, and the Irish Book Awards Story of the Year 2020. The Wild Laughter is her second novel, and was longlisted for the 2021 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, and shortlisted for the An Post Irish Novel of the Year 2020 and the RTÉ Radio 1 Listeners Choice Award. She holds a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and is currently the Oscar Wilde Centre Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.

Caoilinn Hughes book cover Wild Laughter

About: The Wild Laughter, by Caoilinn Hughes

It's 2008, and the Celtic Tiger has left devastation in its wake. Brothers Hart and Cormac Black are waking up to a very different Ireland – one that widens the chasm between them and brings their beloved father to his knees. Facing a devastating choice that risks their livelihood, if not their lives, their biggest danger comes when there is nothing to lose.

A sharp snapshot of a family and a nation suddenly unmoored, this epic-in-miniature explores cowardice and sacrifice, faith rewarded and abandoned, the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we resist. Hilarious, poignant and utterly fresh, The Wild Laughter cements Caoilinn Hughes' position as one of Ireland's most audacious, nuanced and insightful young writers. 


“I loved this book. So funny and bleak. I loved the madness, the tone, the ending, the realisation, The Third Policeman charge of the whole thing.” – Roddy Doyle

“Extraordinary... A book of wicked intelligence and tender heart.” – Max Porter

“Sharp, witty and full of gorgeous language.” – Rick O'Shea, Best Books of 2020

“Powerful...darkly adventurous... An Irish Cain and Abel.” – Guardian

“A razor-sharp snapshot of a family and a nation in trouble, in language that is vital and richly inventive... A remarkable achievement... An exhilarating and moving story of an Ireland in disarray.” – Irish Times

“A finely tuned symphony... Hughes's dark comedy reads like a post-boom Beckett, if he'd been let run riot on a heart-scald of a potato farm in Co Roscommon... Dazzling doesn't even come close.” – Sunday Independent (Ireland)

Judges comments

“Caoilinn Hughes has a unique talent for conjuring laughter in the face of death with stunning originality.  Exquisite prose and a distinctive portrayal of contemporary life in rural Ireland.”

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