A Shock

In 'A Shock', a clutch of more or less loosely connected characters appear, disappear and reappear. They are all of them on the fringes of London life, often clinging on – to sanity or solvency or a story – by their fingertips.

Keith Ridgway, author of the acclaimed 'Hawthorn & Child', writes about people whose understanding of their own situation is only ever partial and fuzzy, who are consumed by emotions and anxieties and narratives, or the lack thereof, that they cannot master. He focuses on peripheral figures who mean well and to whom things happen, and happen confusingly, and his fictional strategies reflect this focus. In a deftly conjured high-wire act, Ridgway achieves the fine balance between the imperatives of drama and fidelity to his characters. The result is pin-sharp and often breathtaking.

About the author

Keith Ridgway is from Dublin, and lives in London. 'A Shock' is his fifth novel.

The judges on the shortlist

Kamila Shamsie on 'A Shock'

At first it seems we might be in a book of interlinked stories, but discovering you aren’t quite where you thought you might be is part of the deliberate disorientation of 'A Shock'. It soon becomes clear that the sections in the novel don’t interlink so much as echo and rhyme. The observation is acute, the dialogue sparkles, the movement between interiority and surveillance is deft. It is a novel of in-between places that keeps the reader off-balance to surprising, intelligent and sometimes eerie effect.