We All Fall Down

Peter Barry

We All Fall Down
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We All Fall Down

Peter Barry

We All Fall Down is a vivid and compelling narrative of middle class friends and families, relationships and the contemporary workplace. Kate and Hugh Drysdale like many couples buy a house that stretches them to the limits financially. Hugh looks at the soaring property market, the fact he’s earning a good salary, and all the signs of a booming economy and believes everything will be fine. And it is, until the advertising company he works for hits a rough patch: two major pieces of business walk out of the door, and a new creative director from the UK is brought in. Set in Sydney when world economic instability is beginning to bite, this is very much a book of our time. Peopled with unforgettable characters it is a disturbing, but affecting portrait of family, the workplace, and the costs of playing, or not playing the game. In We All Fall Down Peter Barry brings his witty, razor-sharp vision to human nature, life in suburbia and the moral dilemmas that face us all.


In 2011, Peter Barry produced one of the most astonishing literary debuts I have read in a long time – I Hate Martin Amis et al. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s an everyday story of a man who channels his frustration at not getting his novels published into finding a new career as a sniper in Sarajevo, as you do. Barry takes this unlikely literary conceit and produces a work that is mordantly funny, utterly tragic, and deeply disturbing.

His second novel We All Fall Down is more conventional, but also takes the reader into a world that is disturbing and tragic, though not without humour. We follow Hugh Drysdale, advertising executive, as his company hits a bad patch and begins shedding staff. Trapped in a financial web of his own making, and an increasingly dysfunctional marriage, our ‘hero’ watches his carefully wrought world fall to pieces before his eyes.

As with I Hate Martin Amis et al, Barry lets the logic of events unfold without flinching – it is vital but uncomfortable reading, as Hugh Drysdale’s struggles strike a chord with all of us in these times of financial and emotional uncertainty. Barry is as unsparing in his prose as he is with his plot – there are no wasted words, no wasted emotions. Barry displays consummate skill in allowing us to empathise with his protagonist without ever sentimentalising him. This is another dazzling novel from a great new talent, and another tribute to the wonderful work being done by the publisher Transit Lounge.

Peter Salmon is the author of *The Coffee Story*

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