The Wonder Lover

Malcolm Knox

The Wonder Lover
  • Format
  • Publisher
  • Country
  • Published
  • Pages
  • ISBN

The Wonder Lover

Malcolm Knox

What’s the worst thing that can happen to a man who has not one, not two, but three secret families on the go? A spectacular work of imagination and audacity from one of our finest writers.

The compartments in our father’s life were not the separations he needed to build to preserve his sanity. They were his sanity. When he fell in love… when he fell to the abjection he deserved, the walls began dissolving. And once the walls came down between all three, or now four, of his lives, so did every other retaining wall - between past and present, present and future, self- and non-self, dream and wakefulness. The walls were his sanity. Love had driven him mad.

This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl, each called Adam and Evie. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an Authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of breathtaking lies and betrayals.

The Guardian famously wrote of Malcolm, ‘If Winton is an aria, Knox is early Rolling Stones’, but this time around he’s got the orchestra along as well and every single note rings deep and rich and true. This bedtime story told by children to adults is jaw-droppingly original, breathtakingly audacious and dazzlingly accomplished.

‘Malcolm Knox is one of the best novelists writing in the world today. That’s not opinion, that’s fact.’ Christos Tsiolkas


Malcolm Knox is a respected literary editor and journalist, known to many for his Walkley Award winning exposé of the fraudulent literary memoir of Norma Khouri. In addition to his achievements in non-fiction, he is an esteemed writer of fiction, drawing praise and prizes for the novels A Private Man and Jamaica. Knox’s fifth novel, The Wonder Lover, will further the author’s already considerable reputation, especially as a dauntless explorer of the inner lives ofmen. The story proceeds from a compact premise: an insipid, outwardly unremarkable man keeps three separate wives, and fathers three separate sets of children across three continents. Effectively archetypal in its rendering of the central characters, the novel offsets its mechanical fabula through the peripheral, spectral narration of the children; here is the fluid, first person plural ‘we’ which we see used to increasing effect in contemporary fiction. It all amounts to a potent mix, an archetypal play that marries journalistic rigour with novelistic drifts, allusions and snares.

What is the worst thing that can happen to a man who has three wives? He falls in love. Readers of Nabokov and Martin Amis will recognise the parodic legacy of men humiliated by love in Knox’s work. The Wonder Lover is alert to the generic markers of the romantic experience: men in love are in trouble because they suddenly find themselves written into the romance genre. Brilliant in its excavations of this literary and cultural inheritance, the novel boldly takes down its anti-hero and throws into play the question of the authenticity of love. To what extent is this most personal of experiences generic, standardised and reproducible; does this type of desire in fact gain authenticity precisely through its standardisation? It’s an old question that has never gone away, but Knox drills down in it, delivering a bright and unsettling gem.

Lucy Van is a freelance reviewer.

This item is not currently in-stock. It can be ordered online and is expected to ship in 2-14 days

Please note, our stock data is updated overnight, and availability may change throughout the day. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.