- Pre-order Price Guarantee: order now and if the Amazon.co.uk price decreases between the time you place your order and the release date, you'll be charged the lowest price. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
Orchid & the Wasp Paperback – 7 Mar 2019
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
‘Highly ambitious… Kick-ass, whip-smart and with “a tongue like a catapult”, Gael belongs to a venerable tradition of feisty heroines…readers are going to love her.’(Sunday Times)
‘Fiercely bright and moves like a bullet train.’(Sebastian Barry, Costa Book of the Year-winning author of Days Without End)
‘Orchid & the Wasp is a gorgeous novel told in an onrush of wit and ferocity. Art-forging, smack-talking, long-distance-running Gael Foess, three times smarter than everyone around her, proves to be an unforgettable heroine, and her journey will rattle your most basic assumptions about money, ambition, and the nature of love. Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.’(Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See)
‘Orchid & the Wasp is an ambitious, richly inventive and highly entertaining account of the way we live now. Caoilinn Hughes writes with authority and insight, and her novel is as up-to-date as tomorrow's financial-page headlines.’(John Banville, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea)
‘A remarkable, propulsive debut novel... No precis can adequately convey the novel’s startling, impressionistic prose, nor its corrosive humour. Jewels of observation glitter amid the earthy gags... Exuberant... it zings with energy, ambition and daring.’(Times Literary Supplement)
‘Caoilinn Hughes is the real thing – an urgent, funny, painstaking and heartfelt writer. Orchid & the Wasp is a startling debut full of the moral complexity, grief and strange bewilderments of humanity. As the world spins ever more quickly in response to the demands of grifters, parasites and liars, this book offers a troubling, beautiful and wise response.’(A. L. Kennedy, Costa Prize-winning author of Day and Serious Sweet)
‘A winning debut novel… Hughes, a poet, touches the prose with a comic wand… Orchid and the Wasp delivers a fantasy of competence, the kind that is in dialogue, if not always complete agreement, with morality.’(Katy Caldwell, The New Yorker)
‘Hugely ambitious and richly inventive.’(Irish Examiner)
‘Luminous…sparkles with acuity and concision... [Gael] is an indomitable, highly adaptable character who can navigate through tumultuous times and wildly disparate environments with ingenuity and grit.’(Yoona Lee, LA Review of Books)
‘A gem of a debut about the way we live now.’(Elle)
About the Author
Caoilinn Hughes is an Irish writer whose poetry collection Gathering Evidence won the Irish Times Shine/Strong Award and the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for both the Seamus Heaney Prize and the Pigott Poetry Prize. She is a fellow of the James Merrill Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation, and was awarded a Tin House Writers Workshop Scholarship for Summer 2017, a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, and The Ireland Funds Monaco Award. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Granta, POETRY, Best British Poetry, BBC Radio 3, The Rumpus and elsewhere. She divides her time between her native Ireland and the Netherlands.
Showing 1-7 of 8 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Then we meet Gael’s immediate family, her father Jarlath, a senior banker with Barclays, and her mother Sive, an internationally renowned orchestral conductor. Gael’s brother Guthrie is a delicate boy who is bullied at school. Gael seems to draw strength from her parents’ expectations, Guthrie seems to have given up trying.
Gael, like so many of her Gaelic ancestors, sets off to seek her fortune first in England and then in New York. Although she never takes success for granted, she displays no fear of failure. She is willing to blag, cheat and blackmail her way to the top. She’s like a computer gamer, wanting to get off to the fastest start possible or die in the attempt. She is willing to bet her last cent on an outside chance - she’s not even gambling on red and black, she’s putting her chips on the numbers. Except she knows the House has the edge, so she has to become the House.
There is a plot; it’s based on art and it only really starts half way through the book. Up until that point it is all just establishing the scene. While that happens, the reader may wonder whether it is going anywhere at all – the answer is oh yes, it certainly is!
But the plot is not the selling point. It’s the sidetracks within sidetracks. The romance with Harper, the start of the Occupy movement, the bohemian art forger. It is a comic delight in the same vein as The Sellout and Joshua Ferris. There are witty references and word games aplenty.
And at the end, the reader realises that Gael is not the grotesque and greedy figure we first imagined. Yes, she is a complete con artist. But only because she enjoys the conning; the rewards are incidental and can be given away lightly. We love her for it, but deep down we know that it is not a sustainable business model. Gael is Ireland, born of the earls and the Sidhe, her heart is captured by a Harp, her future uncertain but the present day is a gas.
Orchid and the Wasp is a fabulous novel and must be one of the best of 2018. It deserves to win prizes. Booker, anyone?
"“[Ireland has] produced far more than our expected quota of fine writers and we continue to do so. Then along comes Caoilinn Hughes and the bar doesn’t get raised, it gets broken – smashed and smithereened – and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men… And so this wondrous odyssey goes, from Dublin to London to New York, with Hughes taking vicious, gleeful swipes at every falsity, every delusion, every instance of breathless wonder at the Emperor’s New Clothes … Dazzling, heady fiction. Hughes is an award-winning poet and it’s barely concealable. She simply dances on the page, her imagination is riotous, her flawed characters have shape and colour and sometimes heartbreaking humanity. When I finished this book I wanted to return to the start. Immediately. Just to savour it all again.”
The book is arranged episodically and straddles almost ten years of Gael’s life so we see her change and develop. This is where the title of the book comes in and it relates to the revolutionary evolutionary theories of Felix Guattari which, to summarise disgracefully, suggest that most theories of evolution reflect capitalist models and that the orchid and the wasp are not in a competition for survival but collaboration in the continual act of becoming like one another. ‘Becoming’ rather than getting somewhere is a key theme in the book and Gael has a nasty sting as well as being attractive.
Gael responds to the world as she sees it, aggressively making her way through a range of situations on the basis of her own judgements about what other people need and want. By the end of it, it is possible to see places where she has gone disastrously wrong. She misjudges Art and fails to make sense of her parents and what they want from life. She tries to act in Guthrie’s interests and alienates him. She drives away Harper who wants to be her friend. She often goes for the simplistic truth rather than trying to unravel the complexities of situations. This is the act of becoming, trying stuff out, going down blind alleys and then trying something else.
I really liked that about the novel. We are not presented with a character that gradually becomes finished and polished. In fact, the ending of the book is enigmatic but what we do know is that she has already impacted on the lives of those around her.
In places the book is oddly poetic and, in others, there are arguments to be explored. The concept of negative and positive liberty – which societal doors are open and which are closed – is pivotal for Gael who achieves some outrageous entrances. When Sive explains about why Art is as he is, we realise the complexity of these characters. ‘He won’t talk about death to people who haven’t experienced it. They can’t relate and he doesn’t want to make them try. That’s a generosity. It’s the most difficult thing; the existence of life’s opposite, hovering over us always as a possibility.’ That is good writing and an excellent read.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?