The Boy

  • New York Times Notable Book
  • Winner of a Lambda Literary Award

While reading The Boy, I intently turned the pages, carried along by Murr’s dark energy, his sharply intelligent prose, his genius for the unexpected, his keen sense of atmosphere.  And the novel’s harrowing conclusion more than demonstrates [Murr’s] stunning gifts. Margot Livesey, The New York Times Book Review

Who is the boy? . . .

Who is the boy? And whose body lies beneath a sheet of blue tarpaulin in the basement of a derelict brewery? The discovery of a chilling diary sends Sean Hennessy, once a foster father to the boy, on a desperate search to unlock the secrets of his tragic past and to learn the truth about the boy’s part in the disintegration of Sean’s family. The boy’s charismatic, seductive, and protean personality (he is Devon to the keepers of the Boys’ Home, Alex to the Fatman with whom he lives, Priestly to the young rent-boy who reveres him, and Durwood to Sean’s daughter) arches over this compelling novel and is mirrored in the lives of all the people Sean encounters. From these different perspectives we witness the boy’s many incarnations, which reflect, aggravate, and distort the desires of those around him, involving these characters–and ultimately Sean himself–irrevocably in the boy’s mysterious intentions.

Like Margaret Atwood, Murr traffics in images so capably that the novel’s space becomes a kind of magnetic field, alluring . . . Like the abandoned buildings that are its backdrop, The Boy makes it hard for readers to walk away unhaunted. Washington Post Book World

[Murr’s] prose . . . bursts into flower, taking us straight to the passionate heart of his characters.  Words and phrases take on an almost translucent elasticity, stretching to encompass new ideas, giving scenes a compelling visual wholeness and suggesting real complexity. Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday

[The Boy] has a rare emotional intensity, which shines through . . . Murr has done more than breathe life into his two troubled protagonists: he has found something genuinely haunting in the city they live in. Sunday Telegraph

Astonishingly poised and polished, Murr’s debut uncovers the chilling Machiavelli who lurks beneath the beautiful and beguiling skin of a young boy. . . . A psychological thriller which . . . simultaneously haunts and seduces. Scotland on Sunday

An extraordinary first novel. Sunday Independent (Dublin)

Naeem Murr’s The Boy is a first novel of awesome power, poise and sensitivity. Publishers Weekly

It’s Murr’s willingness and ability to walk into and through deep psychic terrain without flinching or cheating that sets him apart as a writer. . . . Murr has done that rarest of things for a first-time (or anytime) novelist: risked, and thereby given readers, everything. Bay Area Reporter

Naeem Murr’s debut, a dark and passionate literary gem with the hurtling narrative of a thriller.  This is one of those rare books that, once finished, you realize was even better than you had thought. The Bookseller

The Boy’s beauty and precocious seductiveness also suggest comparison with Vladamir Nabokov’s Lolita and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice . . . The Boy is beautifully written and, like its eponymous protagonist, dangerously seductive. LS (Carra Hood, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University)

“[Murr’s] deliciously and deliberately ornate prose style provides the perfect setting for the depth of psychological inquiry that he achieves.” Slogging through the Muck of the American Id in The Gettysburg Review by Cathy Day.

The Boy, Naeem Murr’s compelling debut novel is reminiscent of the work of John Fowles.  There’s a stunning juxtaposition here of monstrous acts and moody lyrical prose, and a skill with narrative that gives the book the drive a thriller would be proud of. Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan and The Coast of Chicago.

This novel is quite extraordinary.  Murr seems to have given us the best of both worlds here: a narrative that is tight and clean, yet infused with deeply sensuous writing, a wonderful book.Lesley Glaister, author of Now You See Me