NEVER WAS Book launch: H. Gareth Gavin in conversation with Andrew McMillan

  • DATE

    17 April 2023

  • TIME

    6:30 pm to 8:00 pm


    £3 (or free when pre-ordering the book)


    Blackwell's Bookshop Manchester
    University Green, 146 Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9GP

We’re delighted to be working with the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture to host the launch of Honor Gareth Gavin’s NEVER WAS (Cipher Press) – a beautifully strange novel about grief, addiction, transmasculinity and class. Honor will be in conversation with Andrew McMillan (pandemonium, playtime)

About the book:

“Otherworldly and hyperreal, Never Was is a mind-bending and totally beautiful wrestling match with trans and queer lust, the mineral lives of drug trips and extractive industries, and the mysterious alchemy of the people we’re thrown together with, whether in work or family or the undersides of towns. Nobody writes like Gavin. This book is an inimitable gem.” – Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox

Part hallucination, part queer bildungsroman, Never Was is a beautifully strange novel about grief, addiction and working-class masculinity, taking us from a limbo of lost dreams to a small salt-mining town and exploring the way identity is both inherited and re-invented. Daniel sits on a clifftop in the aftermath of a party at Fin’s mansion, looking out over a junky sea. Daniel’s not sure why they’re there, or who Fin is, even though Fin seems to be somebody famous. To find out, Daniel must tell Fin the story of their childhood, going back to a small salt-mining town in The North, a visit from their now-estranged cousin Crystal, and the life and losses of their salt-miner father, Mika. Taking us from bus shelters to playgrounds to McDonalds, from the depth of a salt mine to a nightclub toilet, Daniel describes their world of soap operas, sunglasses, newspaper clippings and Princess Diana, steering Fin through the events that led up to The Great Subsidence, when their town and the mine that sustained it collapsed. As Daniel tells their story, they come to learn they’re in a place called Never Was, a limbo for lost dreams and disappointments, a landfill for things that never came to be, but also a place of change and transition. Dreamy, poignant, and revelatory, Never Was is a bold and inventive novel by an inimitable voice in literary fiction.

About the author:

H. Gareth Gavin is a writer from Birmingham. Midland: A Novel Out of Time (Penned in the Margins, 2014) was shortlisted for the 2015 Gordon Burn Prize and his short story, ‘Home Death’, was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2019/20. Funny Queer, a hand-sewn limited edition collection of stories, was published by the Aleph Press in 2021. His work has appeared in publications such as Hotel, Short Fiction, the Architectural Review, and Prototype (Anthology 4), and he is also the author of a critical book exploring the encounter between early twentieth-century literature and silent film. An essay on transmasculinity and femininity, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me,’ takes its title from a Muriel Spark ghost story and is collected in Queer Life, Queer Love (Muswell Press, 2021). He currently teaches in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester.

Andrew McMillan’s first collection, physical, was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award; it also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize, and his most recent collection is pandemonium. McMillan is a Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Doors: 6.30, starts: 6.45

Tickets are £3.00 or free when pre-ordering a copy of the book. NEVER WAS will also be available to purchase on the night and Honor will be signing copies after the talk. If you would like a signed copy but cannot make the event, please contact us on 0161 274 3331 or and we can arrange this for you.