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Big Girl, Small Town

By Michelle Gallen

“Darkly hilarious . . . Wildly entertaining.” —The Guardian

Meet Majella O’Neill, a heroine like no other, in this captivating Irish debut that has been called Milkman meets Derry Girls

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up just after the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local chip shop, watching the regular customers come and go. She wears the same clothes each day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, microwaved at home after her shift ends), and binge-watches old DVDs of the same show (Dallas, best show on TV) from the comfort of her bed. 

But underneath Majella’s seemingly ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. When Majella’s predictable existence is upended by the death of her granny, she comes to realize there may be more to life than the gossips of Aghybogey, the pub, and the chip shop. In fact, there just may be a whole big world outside her small town. 

Told in a highly original voice, with a captivating heroine readers will love and root for, Big Girl, Small Town will appeal to fans of Sally Rooney, Ottessa Moshfegh, and accessible literary fiction with an edge.

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Michelle Gallen

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Review quotes
“A darkly hilarious novel about small-town life . . . Wildly entertaining.” —The Guardian

“Sinead Moriarty's endorsement 'Milkman meets Derry Girls' is as accurate as you'll get. But Big Girl, Small Town is even funnier than Derry Girls, while being just as fraught as Anna Burns's Booker Prize winner.” —The Irish Independent
“A confident debut with a very memorable protagonist.” —The Irish Times
“Engrossing.” —Image magazine (One of 8 “Must Reads” of 2020)
“Bawdy yet beautiful . . . I grew extraordinarily attached to Majella.” —Sara Baume, author of A Line Made by Walking

“A thrillingly fresh, provocative and touching voice.” —Marian Keyes, bestselling author of Grown Ups
“It's the humour, dry and gritty, that sets Big Girl, Small Town apart . . . to think that this is Michelle Gallen's debut is astonishing, as Majella's narration is bold and assured . . . evocative, caustic and compelling.” —Sunday Business Post
“Northern Ireland is currently producing more exceptional writers per square inch than possibly anywhere else . . . Michelle Gallen will most certainly earn her place in the honours list. Big Girl, Small Town is even funnier than Derry Girls, while being just as fraught as Anna Burns's Booker Prize winner.” —Sunday Independent
“A winning evocation of a small Irish community whose people burst from its pages. Engaging and satisfying.” —Daily Mail
“Superb.”  —Irish Examiner
“Darkly funny.” —Mail on Sunday
“Gallen's debut deserves comparisons with Anna Burns' Milkman for its depiction of the impact of the Troubles on a vulnerable young woman, but this terrifically imagined tender black comedy is very much its own book." —Metro
“Charming . . . there is an easy warmth to Big Girl, Small Town. —Sunday Times
“Gallen's unrelenting eye for the bizarre and Coughlan's talent for deadpanning make it an absolute winner.” —Financial Times
“Milkman meets Derry Girls. A cracking read.”Sinead Moriarty, bestselling author of Seven Letters
Product Details
Number of pages
Publication date
December 01, 2020
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