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About the book
  • Published: 3 February 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869797249
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 392

In the Absence of Heroes


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A clever, moving novel about the impact of the internet on our relationships.

A clever, moving novel about the impact of the internet on our relationships.

Jim and Renata Delpe's life is in a very modern crisis. With their son, Jeff, sending text messages to his dead brother while slipping quickly into internet addiction, and with Renata engaged in a secret internet relationship with a figure she has never actually met, Jim Delpe - who has long had 'a love-hate relationship' with computers - is left with no choice but to log in himself, if the family is to be saved.

In this ambitious, suspenseful and achingly human novel, set against the decline of the nuclear family and the unstoppable rise of digital relationships, In The Absence Of Heroes gives us the complex modern world, full of hard, binary choices: make one or two bad choices in a row and just see what happens . . .

This is sequel to Death of a Superhero, now made into a movie, starring Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

  • Pub date: 3 February 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869797249
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 392

About the Author

Anthony McCarten

Anthony McCarten’s novels have been translated into 14 languages. His collection of short stories, A Modest Apocalypse, was shortlisted in the Heinemann-Reed Fiction Award in 1991. Death of a Superhero won the 2008 Austrian Youth Literature Prize and was a finalist for the German Youth Literature Prize. It was made into an international film, starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Andy Serkis, and won the Prize of the Public and the Prize of the Youth Public at the Les Arcs European Film Festival in December 2011.He has also written numerous stage plays, including co-writing the world-wide success Ladies Night, which won the prestigious Molière prize, the Meilleure Pièce Comique in 2001. While most of his novels have been turned into successful feature films by other film-makers, McCarten directed Show of Hands himself, as well as his adaption of his play Via Satellite.

Blick, Zurich, declared of Death of a Superhero: ‘Not since Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum have the pains of growing up been rendered this powerfully.’ Der Spiegel (online) concluded: ‘A fantastic novel and a small revolution for the literary form. This novel makes one sick with yearning for more such texts, which are sensitive without being kitschy, which don’t mistake coolness for cynicism, which don’t pretend that movies, comics, video games, internet just don’t exist . . . It is impossible to present our modern world of perceptions more adequately and vividly.’

John McCrystal in The New Zealand Listener called In the Absence of Heroes ‘witty, humane and dazzingly clever’ and ‘a damned fine novel’, pinpointing McCarten’s ‘strong plots and superb dialogue’ as not only a writing strength but a reason why his work lends itself so well to screen adaptation. The Dominion Post Weekend praised In the Absence of Heroes: ‘McCarten’s deft and crisp writing, his blend of the online action with the real world, and remarkable sense of pace, make this a lively and intelligent book. It’s a thriller, of a kind, but it’s the flawed and engaging characters who drive this novel. Oddly human and grounded, it is rich and invigorating.’

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Praise for In the Absence of Heroes

“McCarten’s deft and crisp writing, and remarkable sense of pace make this a lively and intelligent book. It is a thriller, of a kind – a search for a missing child – but has a depth that firmly keeps it literate and original: it’s the flawed and engaging characters who drive this novel. Oddly human and grounded, In the Absence of Heroes is a rich and invigorating book.”

Sean Monaghan, Weekend Press, Christchurch

“Anthony McCarten is a tremendous story teller: a fireside companion, par excellence. The sequel to his 2005 novel, Death of a Superhero, this novel also very successfully stands alone. Its brilliance lies in the character of the internet, beguilingly whatever we want it to be, or hope it will be, as the flesh connections of our real families somehow drift ever further away. There is great sadness here. But the author sets such a cracking pace that it works as a thriller and whodunit, too. It’s a brave book, because it allows a confronting ambivalence. When Renata eschews a real confessional to make her confession online, “God” (whoever the online version may be – an unfrocked priest, perhaps, “caught with his pants down”?) “provides more real comfort than either her church or her family has provided her in the last twelve months.” The villain here is who? And what might solely be a ripper of a cautionary tale about the perils of the internet, uses the computer screen to reflect a more profound and hurtful question back at us – what absence drives us there? What have we lost? And why?”

Judges' report, NZ Post Book Awards


Awards & Recognition

  • NZ Post Book Awards

    Finalist • 2013 • Fiction category


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