An NPR Best Book of 2017
When Oliver Bonds loses his toddler son and undergoes intense legal scrutiny over his involvement, grief engulfs him completely. His life is upended, costing Oliver his wife, home, and faith. Three years after his son’s death, Oliver has gravitated to the fringes of society. Once a revered university professor, he now lives in a shack without electricity behind a nail salon and frequents the soup kitchen where he used to volunteer.
It’s only when befriended by Lyle, a bombastic, over-sexed con artist with a passion for conspiracy theories, that Oliver begins to reengage with the world. Inspired by Lyle and a community of eccentrics, Oliver becomes convinced that the Earth is hollow and holds a true Eden. Desperate to find a place where he can escape his past, Oliver chases after the most unlikely of miracles.
With unforgettable characters, wild imagery, and dark humor, Hollow explores the depths of doubt and hope, stretching past grief and into the space where we truly begin to heal.
This is a book about a man trying to find his way back to the light, small and distant as it may be . . . It is a quietly beautiful rumination on what it means to have faith, and what we do when that rug is suddenly pulled out from underneath us.
Hollow grabs you, startlingly, with the poetry of its first sentence...and follows up with sardonic wit...and an existential quest...Hollow is off-beat, poignant, ultimately beguiling literary fiction.
With the kind of grace not usually seen in accessible modern fiction, Egerton also invokes many other things with this central metaphor . . . Ollie’s voice is one of the most believable I’ve encountered this year, sustained by honesty, realism, and compassion. In his exile, Ollie has taken stock. His reckoning with the past creates the story’s exquisite tension and makes the final scene bloom with tenderness . . . The core of Hollow is anything but.
An incredibly imaginative examination of grief, faith, and the relationship between the two. Egerton spins out the story of Oliver Bonds, a former religious studies professor who loses everything when his toddler son dies under mysterious circumstances and Bonds’ involvement is scrutinized. Three years later, Bonds is living alone in a remote shack and eating at the soup kitchen he once volunteered for. A grifter with a belief in ’hollow earth’ conspiracy theories is the unlikely catalyst for Bonds’ rebirth, as he latches onto a new kind of faith in his search for solace. An unexpectedly thrilling story of sadness and belief.
Surrounded by characters in various states of mourning, this narrative is a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and guilt.
If you dig what George Saunders does—that big, compassionate bear-hug of sadness, vulnerability, joy, pain, and humor in many forms (cerebral, sweet, goofball, wicked, and pitch-black)—Hollow will hit you right in the sweet spot.
Egerton has crafted a beautifully strange modern take on the ’Book of Job’ populated with haunting and hilarious characters worthy of Vonnegut’s best. A meditation on grief and love, Hollow is simultaneously heart wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny.
A portrait of heartbreak and loss of faith so wretched it may leave readers with raw nerves.
In Hollow, Owen Egerton has fashioned a heartbreaking, tragic, yet funny novel about a man facing a tragedy that would be, in anyone else’s hands, almost impossible to read, but that, in his hands, is a story difficult to put down.
Hollow is a work with an animate, vibrant, and awe-inducing core.
I was blown away by Owen Egerton’s achingly beautiful, compulsively readable tale of a man who has lost his son, and himself. Hollow is filled to the brim with wonder and the sadness of being human . . . This is an adventure story with a tremendous heart.