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by Belinda McKeon

A searing novel about longing, intimacy and obsession from the award-winning author of Solace.

When they meet in Dublin the late nineties, Catherine and James become as close as two friends can be. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James’s life becomes a prison; as changed as the new Ireland may be, it is still not a place in which he feels able to truly be himself. Catherine, grateful to James and worried for him, desperately wants to help—but as time moves on, and as life begins to take the friends in different directions, she discovers that there is a perilously fine line between helping someone and hurting them further. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of feelings she cannot control, leading her to jeopardize all she holds dear.

By turns exhilarating and devastating, TENDER is a dazzling exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are taught to tell. It is the story of first love and lost innocence, of discovery and betrayal. A tense high-wire act with keen psychological insights, this daring novel confirms McKeon as a major voice in contemporary fiction, belonging alongside the masterful Edna O'Brien and Anne Enright.

Publishing Date: February 16, 2016

Belinda McKeonBelinda McKeon's debut novel, Solace, won the 2012 Faber Prize, was voted Irish Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her essays and journalism have been published in The Paris Review, the New York Times, the Guardian, and elsewhere. She is also a playwright, and has had plays produced in Dublin and New York. McKeon lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Rutgers University.



"TENDER rises above every other book on the shelf for its language alone; the beauty of each sentence will break your heart. But the story, full of the pleasures and terrors and betrayals of youth, will do that anyway. There is no way around it: you will weep. Spectacular." —Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

"Utterly exquisite, unflinchingly observed, Tender is the story of a specific obsessive love, but also the story of youth itself, the blinding needs of heart and body, the illusion that one can change reality to suit one's desires—just by wanting to enough. McKeon's intelligence and insight shine through every page, and the words themselves perform miracles of revelation as they dance from one sentence to the next." —Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

"TENDER is compelling and deeply affecting: McKeon's prose describes the calibrations of emotions wonderfully, and the novel is great on friendship, on art, on being young and in love… I read it in a day." —Nick Laird, author of To a Fault

"TENDER combines the urge to escape the ordinary of Brideshead Revisited with a tormented devotion of McEwan's Enduring Love. It is chilling, gorgeous, and profoundly insightful into the very human urge to wreck oneself on the shoals of a great ambition." —Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

"A perceptive, unexpectedly moving novel about friendship and love and all the heart-stopping moments in between." —Jenny Offill, bestselling author of Dept. of Speculation

"Richly nuanced and utterly absorbing." The Guardian

"TENDER is the best Irish novel I've read since The Spinning Heart, a work rich with wisdom, truth and beauty. There are no gimmicks, no deliberately eccentric characters and no wildly overblown prose masquerading as poetry. Reading it, the novelist that came to mind time and again was Anne Tyler, one of the greatest storytellers alive, whose characters arrive on the page like human beings, things happen to them, they react to these things, and then life continues. I can scarcely think of higher praise than to say that Belinda McKeon could be our Anne Tyler. There is simply not a false note anywhere in Tender." —John Boyne, The Irish Times

"McKeon is a superb and sophisticated writer, who captures the barely articulable feelings between young people on the brink of adulthood." —Fiona Wilson, The Times (UK)