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A startling and sophisticated novel of modern love, sexual violence and toxic inheritance from a brilliant new British voice

'I think this is the best debut fiction I've ever read... I'm still in awe of it, I think about it all the time. If you like David Nicholls, Tessa Hadley, Elizabeth Day, Meg Wolitzer, Donna Tartt, then pre-order this book. It's exceptional.'

-- Pandora Sykes, The High Low (12 Dec 2018)
Featured in 'the hottest-tipped debut novelists of 2019' -- Observer

‘Kate Quaile,’ he said. ‘I like your name.’
Kate frowned. ‘How do you know my name?’

Through their four years at university, Kate and Max are inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But loving Max means knowing his family, the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease and quiet repression. Theirs is not Kate’s world. At their London home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs.

WHAT RED WAS explores the effects of trauma on mind and body, the tyrannies of memory, the sacrifices involved in staying silent, the courage of a young woman in speaking out. And when Kate does, this question: whose story is it now?

‘Subversive and sophisticated’ Elle


Subversive and sophisticated… [Rosie Price’s] exploration of sexual violence and class makes for an unforgettable read

Elle, **Books to Look Out for in 2019**

An incredibly nuanced exploration of the complexities of sexual violence, WHAT RED WAS heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent. This is an important book.

Louise O'Neill, author of ASKING FOR IT and ALMOST LOVE

Bringing together themes of survival, agency, complicity, self-denial and, ultimately, courage, this assured book is one of the most powerful debuts you’ll ever read.


WHAT RED WAS is a gripping novel that shines an unflinching light on trauma and its prismatic impact. A deeply necessary book, elegant and assured even as it burns at the centre with cool, clear-eyed rage.

Sophie Mackintosh, author of THE WATER CURE

[A] conversation-starting novel about love, violence and toxicity from [a] subversive new voice

Evening Standard

A confident and provocative debut

John Boyne, The Times

One of the best books I've ever read about female rage and transgression, and the boundaries of both family and art, shot through with gorgeous prose, wrapped in a thrilling plot. WHAT RED WAS is at once incredibly timely and one for the ages. An assured and stealthily brilliant debut that people will be talking about for a long time

Lisa Gabriele, author of THE WINTERS

Rosie Price has a dazzling gift for rendering the mechanisms of power and privilege viscerally real--whether that power is as concrete as a hand over a face, or more amorphous, subtle, and difficult to name. With its penetrating insight into the texture of trauma and its enthralling prose, this is a book that succeeds in prying open our cultural moment and laying it bare for scrutiny

Alexandra Kleeman, author of YOU TOO CAN HAVE A BODY LIKE MINE

Price never takes the obvious route or goes for an easy resolution. A writer to watch

Sarra Manning, Red

A subversive and sophisticated debut


A powerful read

Nina Pottell, Prima

A provocative read… Brave and hard-hitting

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

A brave and hard hitting read

Psychologies, *Book of the Month*

This exceptional debut is not for the faint-hearted… An honest account of an escalating situation and a woman’s bravery in speaking out


As a meditation the trauma of rape, Price’s debut is compelling and thought-provoking… the darker the narrative grows, the more brightly Price’s prose glimmers

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

What Red Was introduces an exciting new voice to fiction… Narratives are cleverly interwoven to create a richly textured whole. The writing is polished, wise and possessed of remarkable emotional intelligence. Price is just 26; I cannot wait to see what she produces next

Hannah Beckerman, Observer

This debut is incredibly wrought, smartly written and very, very timely… powerful

UK Press Syndication


Patricia Nicol, Sunday Times

Alcoholism, strained friendship and trauma, as well as the power of storytelling, are all sharply expressed

Ella Walker

Feel the sharp edge of Price’s prose… capturing the horrendously common nature of rape…is Price’s greatest accomplishment

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Guardian

A scotching and original read

Sharmaine Lovegrove, Sunday Times

An exceptionally accomplished debut novel with strongly drawn characters. It is nuanced, true to life and it will make you burn with rage. Price has not shied away from tackling challenging material here: consent, sexual assault, substance abuse, self-harm and depression are just some of the topics that she deftly examines


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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    May 21, 2019

    Harvill Secker

    304 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback


    May 9, 2019

    Harvill Secker

    304 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    May 9, 2019

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ