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Neil Smith
Boo



Book Cover

Oliver Dalrymple, nicknamed "Boo" because of his pale complexion and staticky hair, is an outcast at his Illinois middle school—more interested in biology and chemistry than the friendship of other kids. But after a tragic accident, Boo wakes up to find himself in a very strange sort of heaven: a town populated only by thirteen-year-old Americans. While he desperately wants to apply the scientific method to find out how this heaven works (broken glass grows back; flashlights glow without batteries; garbage chutes plummet to nowhere), he's confronted by the greatest mystery of all—his peers. With the help of his classmate Johnny, who was killed at the same time, Boo begins to figure out what exactly happened to them (and who they really were back in the world) through this story about growing up, staying young and the never-ending heartbreak of being thirteen.


Praise for Neil Smith's Boo:

SHORTLIST, SUNBURST AWARDS (2016)
NOMINEE, CLA YOUNG ADULT BOOK AWARD (2016) WINNER, PRIX DE LA BIENNALE (2016)
NOMINEE, PRIX DES LIBRAIRES (2016)
WINNER, PARAGRAPHE HUGH MACLENNAN PRIZE FOR FICTION (2015)

“[A] splendidly confident debut novel . . . Smith smoothly develops his vision of an afterlife in which . . . the emotional payoffs are both surprising and moving.“ —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This first novel, a fugitive from the teen bookshelves, combines a school shooting and a whimsical afterlife in a touching tale of what friendship and growing up can mean.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Instantly charming, never predictable, quietly profound—Boo is both literarily and literally haunting and, in the end, devastating.” —Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of Seconds and the Scott Pilgrim series

“[A] breathtaking balancing act, infusing a delicate, fable-like tone with a meticulous realism . . . Boo unfolds as a simultaneously delightful and thoughtful mélange of genres and tropes, part coming of age story, part fantasy, part murder mystery. . . . the novel is multi-faceted and rich, moving through tones of joy and warmth, of loss and regret, never lingering too long on any single note. It makes for an oddly stirring reading experience, and the novel’s climax draws all of the tones together in a passage that is devastating in its emotional weight. It’s a powerful novel, unsettling in the best of ways.” —Toronto Star

“The novel, despite or because of its aspect of conundrum, is always a pleasure to read. The sensibility is wry, the story compelling despite all the undertones of irony. But it is the sprightliness of the language that matters most.” —The National Post

“Part murder mystery, part existential adventure, Boo is an utter charm-bomb of a novel. Neil Smith’s version of the sweet hereafter shows not only that heaven can be hell, but answers the eternal question of whether it’s better to be dumber with friends or smarter without.”—Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

“[T]here’s a more hopeful, uplifting spiritual element to Boo — and this duality is part of what makes the novel so brilliant.” —The Vancouver Sun

“Neil Smith has created a heaven where the sadness and triumph of life aren’t flattened or diminished but heightened and intensified. Just like you always suspected it would be. Boo is sad, beautiful, heartbreaking and impossible to put down.”—Andrew Kaufman, author of All My Friends Are Superheroes and Born Weird

“In a market crowded by vampires, wizards and dystopian futures comes a unique and fresh take on the young-adult fantasy novel.” —The Winnipeg Free Press

Boo is an astoundingly original novel and Neil Smith's take on the afterlife is convincing, moving, and often funny as hell. A vision equal parts Murakami and South Park.”—Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes

“Original, wickedly funny and avoiding overt sentimentality, Smith’s writing is consistently assured.” —Financial Times (UK)
“Who knew heaven could be so funny, so perilous, so exquisitely alive? Boo is a work of singular genius: an adventure story, a mystery and a profound meditation on childhood, lost innocence and the power of friendship to save our lives—and afterlives. I believe in Neil Smith’s heaven, with all my heart.”
—Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise

Praise for Neil Smith's Bang Crunch:

WINNER, THE McAUSLAN FIRST BOOK PRIZE
FINALIST, COMMONWEALTH WRITERS PRIZE IN THE CANADA & CARIBBEAN REGION FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL (2008)
FINALIST, HUGH MACLENNAN PRIZE FOR FICTION
A BEST BOOK OF 2008 IN THE WASHINGTON POST
A HEATHER'S PICK AT INDIGO/CHAPTERS
A BEST BOOK OF 2007 IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL
THREE STORIES FROM BANG CRUNCH WERE NOMINATED FOR THE JOURNEY PRIZE

"An underpinning of emotional authenticity tempers the quirky conceits in this assured and imaginative short-story debut. The Montreal-based Smith's ability to write from an absurdly wide range of character perspectives—young, old, gay, straight, etc.—is a disarming delight." —Washington Post

"Neil Smith prefers the telling detail, which puts him one-up on the human-condition crowd. You don't go to him for life lessons, since even things that seem to turn out well come with bizarre flourishes that mock his flattened deadpan style." —The Globe and Mail

"Neil Smith never fails to surprise. In a startling, over-the-top clutch of stories reminiscent of the work of Bill Gaston and Charlotte Gill, he has made an impressive mark. Bang Crunch is at times heartbreaking, at times warmly humourous; a crisp commentary on the human need for connection, even in the most unlikely circumstances." —The London Free Press (UK)

"Bang Crunch is a wonder. Devastatingly witty, heartfelt and wise. You must read this book." —Miriam Toews, author of All My Puny Sorrows

"Rarely have I read a collection so various in theme and approach, so magpie-like in its influences. A rare fusion of thematic boldness, humor, gravity, empathy, maturity, and first-rate prose." —Michael Faber, author of Under the Skin, for The Guardian (UK)

"Marvelously readable and inventive . . . Smith's work is vehemently quirky but executed with the panache and facility of a polished veteran." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Smith's writing has real spark and energy. . . It's a fizzing debut." —Los Angeles Times

"Neil Smith finds beauty amid tragedy, delicately coaxing humanity — even humor — out of despair . . . Bang Crunch heralds the exciting arrival of an original narrative voice." —Financial Times (UK)

"Weird, scary, kind of beautiful . . . [An] inventive and original collection." —Daily Telegraph (UK)

"There's plenty of spirited invention and solid storytelling packed into this debut. Bang Crunch? That's the sound of a talented new writer making his mark on CanLit." —Toronto Star

"Smith has managed to write an almost perfect debut." —The Gazette (Montreal)

"To fellow writers, Neil Smith is someone terrifying: A man capable of building prose perfection on his very first try. . . . Smith's stories are stirring in their intimacy, and consistently punctured by moments of both humor and incredible sorrow. There are characters you will fall in love with, and likely return to. " —Nylon Magazine

"Smith highlights emotional vulnerbility and raucous hilarity in each supremely crafted piece. There's no 'quirky for quirky's sake' – just genuinely funny regular people at the intersection of sad and uproarious. . . . Smith builds suspense, turning sharp narrative corners for hearty guffaws, shocking revelations or absurdities. . . . The result is a polished and marvellously textured first book of short fiction. Can't wait for his first novel." —NOW Magazine

"Every once in a very long while I come across a book by a young writer and I simply can't believe what I am reading; because the writing is so good, so new, so original. . . . After finishing Bang Crunch, you'll immediately want to read more by Neil Smith." —Heather Reisman, CEO of Chapters/Indigo


Genre: Fiction—Literary
Length: 304 pages (pb)
Publication Date: May 2015


Brazil, Rocco
Canada English, Knopf Canada
Canada French, Éditions Alto
Czech Republic, Argo
Dutch, Nieuw Amsterdam
Germany, Schöffling
Taiwan, Delight Press
UK, Random House Heinneman
US English, Random House

Canada English Audio, Audible
UK & Commonwealth Large Print, F.A. Thorpe

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.

Author Name

Photo Credit: Julie Artacho

Neil Smith is a French translator and the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller Bang Crunch. He has been nominated for the Hugh McLennan Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best First Book (Canada), as well as the Journey Prize three times. He has also won the First Book Prize from the Quebec Writers' Federation. He lives in Montreal.