Hang Him When He Is Not There
A novel by Nicholas John Turner
Longlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize
New Year’s Eve, 1989. At a residential care home in suburban Australia, fireworks explode in the distance while an elderly man dies in troubling circumstances. Decades later, a proof-reader, disfigured by a childhood accident, prepares to meet a celebrated and reclusive novelist. Between these two figures a subtle and intricate web is woven, implicating the members of a mystical cult, the victim of a beheading, an impostor artist, and the enigmatic presence known only as Agent Vell…
Hang Him When He Is Not There is a novel unlike any other. With keen intelligence, stylistic flair, and a bold philosophy of literary possibilities, Nicholas John Turner has crafted a globe-spanning, time-bending narrative that throws its own readers into the action and scours the darkest reaches of the human psyche: jealousy, betrayal, duplicity, cowardice, and — above all — vanity.
Nicholas John Turner is a writer from Brisbane, Australia. Hang Him When He Is Not There is his first novel.
Read excerpts from Hang Him When He Is Not There:
Listen to the Republic of Consciousness Podcast’s second episode, which features an in-depth discussion of Hang Him When He Is Not There between Neil Griffiths, Jonathan McAloon, Catherine Taylor, and Eley Williams.
Listen to the Republic of Consciousness Podcast’s fourth episode, which features a brief discussion of Hang Him When He Is Not There between Neil Griffiths and Vijay Khurana.
Watch a video review by Kate Armstrong, author of The Storyteller.
Watch a video review by Marc Nash, author of Three Dreams in the Key of G.
Praise for Nicholas John Turner
This debut seems — at first glance — to be made up of free-standing short stories. On reading, and re-reading, however, the links and reflections begin to become apparent. Those gathering certainties are then complicated again. This is the novel as hall of mirrors, and it rewards you for following it to the end.Republic of Consciousness Prize Judges’ Citation
Hang Him When He Is Not There feels sharp, and has sharp edges. It really is unlike many other works I’ve read recently. The voices that are established here, and the weird, dreamlike and nightmarish whirlings of imagery that keep spiralling out of control, [make it] a real rattle-bag.Eley Williams, author of Attrib. & Other Stories
Turner just upends everything. His language is like a taut but complex tool of excavation that just keeps burrowing into deeper terrain. Hang Him When He is Not There is original and disorienting and uncompromising with valuable insight into creative imagination and the reader/text relationship. This guy means business.Sergio de la Pava, author of A Naked Singularity, Personae, and Lost Empress
To say that a début work of fiction is both brilliant and uncategorisable is to announce an important new writer. One can only say it is concurrently properly clever, properly playful and properly dark, and perhaps list a few precursors, mainly those who willingly or not broke fiction so they could rebuild it. Think Kafka, Beckett, Borges, or more recently Pynchon, Foster Wallace, David Mitchell. It’s elevated company indeed; but based on this first book, it will soon be deserved.Neil Griffiths, author of As a God Might Be
Disorientating. … A threatening undercurrent weaves itself through the pages, shadows not quite glimpsed in passing. There is a viciousness to it.Jackie Law, Never Imitate
Fabulously written. It’s not a nice book. It’s not a book about nice characters doing nice things. It’s grimy and quite unpleasant, in quite a lot of ways. But it remains fascinating, all the way through. The collection of voices is astonishing.Kate Armstrong, author of The Storyteller
This is a book without rules. … There’s lots of beautiful writing in here, but, deeper, it’s asking questions about what we mean by ‘book’, ‘fiction’, ‘reader’, ‘writer’. It’s an important book, really; a creative, imaginative narrative, or fragments of it. … It will stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished it.Marc Nash, author of Three Dreams in the Key of G
One of the boldest Australian literary débuts of recent years. … Intricately patterned, intertextual, reflexive, multivocal, bleakly mordant… a narrative splayed and atomised, yet strung together by tangling motifs and voices; a fiction that forks in multiple directions before coiling back together in a snake-like constriction; [a novel that] doubles and fractures the shards of narrative until the whole comes to resemble a mirror that has been smashed and then imperfectly restored.Shannon Burns, The Australian
You marvel at [the style]. That is the sheer pleasure of reading it.Catherine Taylor
Brilliant, and terrifyingly cruel, and funny, in a slapstick way.Jonathan McAloon
Darkly humorous, impish, elusive, and intimate. … A fresh, electrifying, perplexing, flamboyant cornucopia of self-reflexive text.Eugene Bacon, Antic Magazine
Smart and playful. … A curious book that will get you thinking and feeling.Daniel Young, editor of Tincture
Intricate and subtly interwoven, Hang Him When He Is Not There is not a safe first work of fiction. It takes risks and challenges conventions masterfully.Bonnie Stevens, Mous Magazine
Intellectually playful. … Keeps readers enthralled with [its] deep complexity and originality.Kim Hellberg, The West End Magazine
Highly original and complex. … Elusively intriguing. … There is a fascinating mind to be discovered within these pages.Elaine Fry, The West Australian
A dazzling, daring novel. I was completely taken aback. The intensity of the reading experience it affords is simply astonishing.Martin Shaw
Exceptional and challenging. … One of those books that turns our preconceptions of literature inside-out and expands the limits of what the artform can do. … When I read it, it gave me that feeling of a first encounter with a truly singular intelligence. Unique. Uncompromising. Absolutely self-possessed, fully confident in the integrity of its one-of-a-kind literary vision. It is the real deal — a novel that offers all the rewards of the very best literature while also breaking all the old rules.Daniel Davis Wood
A book which is very difficult to categorise and one that I think sets out to deny or even deconstruct categorisation. … [It] examines the very concept of art, particularly literature, its creation and consumption.Graham Fulcher