Following the success of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, Everlasting Lane and The White Goddess: An Encounter, we are proud to be able to bring you another superb work from an exciting new talent.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Randall is a satirical alternative history of the heady years of Cool Britannia and the emergence of the Young British Artists. It asks what would have happened if Damien Hirst had never arrived? If someone else had become the most notorious and influential young British artist?
Early on in this bravura debut we are informed that Hirst was hit and killed by a train in 1989 ("apparently when drunk") – and the focus of everyone's attention falls instead on Randall. Randall – a big, lumbering ape of a man – is a genius of language as much as art, supremely able to baffle, bemuse and amuse the press, public and all around him. He makes a fortune, causes chaos, changes the art world – the whole world – and provides brilliant quips every step of the way: "There's only two things you can do with art: make it, and buy it. Everything else – talking about it, thinking about it, selling it, looking at it – either comes under one of those two, or doesn't count."
As well as providing a sharp, smart commentary on art and capitalism, there's a soft beating heart to Randall. Above everything else, this is a story of love and friendship and loss, as seen through the eyes of Randall's sidekick, Vincent – a narrator very much in the traditional of Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby or Charles Ryder of Brideshead Revisited. It is touching as well as funny, humane as well as wonderfully cruel. It is a book we expect to get both literary acclaim and notoriety. It will kick ass.
Praise for Randall
Gibbs has produced the sort of novel you pray for as a reviewer – one that you can actually enjoy and not have to search through desperately in order to find something to praise. -- Tibor Fischer, The Guardian
Gibbs’s novel is more than mischief: as with all the best lampoons, it dissects things that really matter and have gone awry -- Toby Lichtig, The Telegraph
By the end – with a shift in point of view to Justine, as she and Vincent head for an inevitably messy rapprochement – you feel Gibbs has worked a double shift, disguising a well-turned tale of family secrecy as an acerbic essay on recent cultural history without short-changing the demands of either form. -- Anthony Cummins, The Observer
An extremely funny satire of the dirty business or art curation, archiving, buying and selling [...] slowly reveals itself as a moving account of friendship, love and loss, coupled with the desire to sift the authentic from the inauthentic, This clever and accomplished transition is relayed in Gibbs’ charming voice, rich in depth and confidence and as knowingly precise as the deftest of brush strokes. – Lee Rourke, The New HumanistIn many ways Randall doesn’t feel like a debut, or rather doesn’t feel like the many debuts which have been written too early, before the author knew what they wanted to say, how to say it and most importantly, how the two meet. It has style and aplomb, and is brimful of brilliance. - John Self, AsylumThis is not a conventional novel, and Jonathan Gibbs is not a conventional writer [...] Randall is exciting and energetic even as it stymies its readers. The questions circling around the near-mythical figure at the book’s center, filtered through Vincent’s eyes or through his artworks, are never fully resolved—but the point of satire has never been to provide answers. – Jeffrey Zuckerman, 3:AM MagazineRandall not only captures the slightly hysteric mood of this period, but also nails its target with deftness and a degree of affection. It is perhaps successful because that hint of amused fondness balances its satirical offensiveness. But don’t take that to mean that Randall’s satire is insipid, it is exquisitely cleansing and gloriously funny. - Anthony Brown, Time’s Flow StemmedFuck me, this is a fucking good book. Aside from having the obvious perks of ‘shit that I like to read about’ (very few characters, mad thoughtful leading man, scandal, just being generally a bit fucked up) it is written so fucking beautifully that you feel like this man actually existed (read full review) – Book Cunt
Sharp, funny, and cerebral, Randall is a cool book with a big heart, the story of one of the biggest parties of the Nineties and its long, slow morning after. -- Anjali Joseph
A satiric but moving novel about the art world that takes us from the YBA scene in London in the 90s to the penthouses of New York two decades later. It's all made up, Damien's not going to sue, but at the same time, it rings mysteriously true. -- Giles Foden
Told in luminous, biting prose, Jonathan Gibbs' debut novel is a rare delight. Brilliant on art and money (neither of which are easy subjects), this is a novel that is at once funny and heartbreaking, intelligent and fiercely gripping. A book whose characters sing on the page - I missed them as soon as I finished the last few beautiful paragraphs. This will be yet another hit for Galley Beggar Press. -- Alex Preston
Alex also added:
I loved the narrative voice, very Nick Carraway.