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An NPR Best Book of the Year, Hollow is the story of a professor whose life is unended after an unspeakable tragedy.
When Oliver Bonds, a revered religious studies professor at the University of Texas, loses his toddler son and undergoes intense legal scrutiny over his involvement, grief engulfs him completely. His life as he knows it is over; Oliver loses his wife, home, and faith. Three years after his son’s death, Oliver lives in a shack without electricity and frequents the soup kitchen where he used to volunteer.
It’s only when befriended by Lyle, a con artist with a passion for theories of Hollow Earth, that Oliver begins to reengage with the world. Oliver too becomes convinced that the inside of the planet might contain a different realm. 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.
“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.” –NPR
Winner of the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Award for Fiction
An NPR Best Book of 2017
"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." —NPR
"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." —Barnes & Noble Reads pick, 12 Must-Read Indie Novels
"Oliver Bonds, the protagonist of Austin writer Owen Egerton’s third novel, Hollow, is a modern-day Job: a beloved religious studies professor at the University of Texas who, after his toddler son dies, hits bottom—and believes he might find some sort of solace in an undiscovered land at the center of the earth. There's profound sorrow to be found here, but great wit too: 'I pictured my monthly paycheck stretched over our expenses like a queen sheet on a king-sized bed.'" —Texas Monthly
"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." —Lone Star Literary Life
“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, and I found myself laughing and tearing up on the same page. This is an adventure story with a tremendous heart. I couldn’t put it down.” —Sarah Hepola author of Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget
“I've long been a fan of Egerton's dark, probing, and often hilarious novels, but Hollow takes it to the next level. 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.” –Amanda Eyre Ward, author of The Same Sky
"Hollow is a work with an animate, vibrant, and awe-inducing core." —Foreward Reviews
"Surrounded by characters in various states of mourning, this narrative is a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and guilt." —Read It Forward
"Owen Egerton has always used his abundant comedic gifts to explore serious, complex subjects--e.g., human frailty, faith and morality, love and connection, the funhouse of contemporary American culture--and Hollow is the book in which it all comes together, the work of a copiously talented writer at the top of his game. Our protagonist, a contemporary Job buckling under the weight of profound suffering and loss—his own, and that of those who surround him, too—is primed for a hero's journey that will get him right with the world again. But Hollow is a surprising book, one that eschews the expected, and his journey ends up being very different from the one he—or the reader—expects. There are no easy answers or tidy resolutions, but there's hard-won grace and a hell of a lot of humor along the way." —Doug Dorst, author of S.
"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."" —Manuel Gonzales, author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories and The Regional Office is Under Attack!
""I've long been a fan of Egerton's dark, probing, and often hilarious novels, but Hollow takes it to the next level. 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." —Amanda Eyre Ward, author of The Same Sky