A spectacular first novel: fascinating.

The New Yorker

Spark’s stunning 1957 debut

The Comforters

Fiction by Muriel Spark

With her now-signature air of easy, sunny eeriness, Spark lights up the darkest things: blackmail; a drowning; nervous breakdowns; a loathsome busybody; a diabolist bookseller; human evil. These—along with a ring of smugglers and a metaphysical trap to be sprung—are Spark’s meat, served up here in dazzling and rigorous fashion.

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Portrait of Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark

20th century Scottish novelist, poet and essayist

A spectacular first novel: fascinating.

The New Yorker

The Comforters is fascinating: its heroine Caroline Rose, is a recently converted Catholic who finds herself hallucinating voices—voices that indicate to her that she has become a character in a novel. And of course she has—the very novel we are reading.

Stephen Schiff, The New Yorker

It is all held so lightly, so playfully. But this paralleling of cheap smuggling mystery and Roman Catholic mystery, this mischievous, merry challenge to British literary realism, this blatant parody of contemporary cold-war surveillance plotting and paranoia, becomes a life-and-death struggle in the end. That this light, clever, mirthful tour de force was a first novel is astounding. It still knocks the stuffing out of the realist tradition, and probably always will.

Ali Smith, The Guardian

This novelist skillfully preserves the mystery of fiction while purporting to lay out its bare bones. So dazzling is Spark’s technique that you can no more separate her devices from her desires than, as Caroline says, ‘try to distinguish between the sea and the water in it.'

The Sunday Times (London)