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Philippa Holloway


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  • £10

This book will be released in September 2024.

Pre-orders are charged at time of order and the book will be posted to you as soon as it becomes available.

UK postage is 99 pence per order.


The debut short story collection from the RSL Ondaatje-award longlisted author of The Half-life of Snails.


Dead birds fall from the sky, an octopus lies stranded on a beach, and a lost shoe becomes a public shrine ... Untethered, Philippa Holloway’s first collection of short stories, provides an unflinching glimpse of daily life interrupted by unexpected events. Small intrusions into familiar spaces reveal nothing is as it seems, and to feel suddenly adrift, unsure, might just be the catalyst needed for clarity. Sometimes it demands a change of viewpoint, sometimes a cutting loose to find freedom.

From conflicted parental expectations to unwanted visitors, from discovering tiny human teeth in the garden to a brief encounter with a murderer over the kitchen table, these precise, realist tales scrutinise families and lovers, colleagues and strangers with a keen emotional depth and sharp observation. Each one is a vivid snapshot of how people anchor themselves inside their lives and beliefs, exposing the fragile ties that hold people together, and highlighting the need to see things differently to survive the day.

Here we see how pigeons become terrible portents, dining tables become autopsy benches and confessionals, and a family is forced out of their home with just minutes to pack.



'This timely novel, meticulously researched and rooted in a deeply felt knowledge of place, has been a long time in gestation... Holloway’s real brilliance is in the quiet, patient interweaving of two highly charged places and her internalised sense of the invisible damage that radioactive fallout, both real and imagined, does to bodies, hearts and minds.' Helen Grove-White, Planet

'a powerful, evocative novel about landscape, about a young mother living near a nuclear power plant in Wales... It was longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and I thought it was a terrific book.' Samira Ahmed, Front Row, BBC Radio 4

'The Half-Life of Snails achieves a powerful evocation of both the north coast of Ynys Môn, where Wylfa is situated, and the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Holloway conducted extensive field research in Ukraine while she was planning this book and her descriptions of ‘the zone’ have a palpable intensity.'  Bobby Seal, Psychogeographic Review

'I was drawn in and held until the final sentences ... a prescient, powerful and disturbing read.' Dr Phil Smith, psychogeographer

'Holloway’s descriptions of the Welsh landscape and the isolation zone around Chernobyl are richly detailed, starkly contrasting lushness and degradation... Holloway is expert at capturing the fear, verging on paranoia, generated by them.' Kirkus

'Holloway’s novel shows us the human story of the nuclear debate. It is both a powerful exploration of personal and social development, and an intriguing insight into arguments about nuclear power.' Morgan Davies, New Welsh Review

'the prose in the novel is often lean, pared-back but nonetheless effective as it maps out the relationship between the two sisters and demonstrates the unbreakable bond between Helen and her son ... the final image of the book is simply heart-rending' Jon Gower, Nation.Cymru

'I don't think this one will leave me, the type of read that exists in the back of your mind ... a cracking and captivating read.' Cheryl M-M's Book Blog

'The Half-Life of Snails is that wonderful thing, a novel that can be read in several different ways. On the surface it is a gripping thriller, ripe for transfer to the big screen. But it also excels as an exploration of the geography of the human heart, which Holloway shows to be as difficult to navigate as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, for which there is no detailed and reliable map available.' Lunate

'The author has crafted a beautiful yet unsettling story with a strong sense of place, accentuating the bond between humans and the landscapes they live in. The Half-Life Of Snails is a book to reflect on that will undoubtedly linger long after finishing.' Buzz

'The Half-Life of Snails is a gripping story which speaks to a universal anxiety, not just about nuclear power, but about the environment as a whole. It explores the way we respond in crisis, and the things we hold onto most when everything seems under threat. More than that, it captures the genuine love of a family who, despite their flaws, care about one another deeply. A transformative read in a time of heightened complexity and division.' Wales Arts Review

'Holloway has written a novel that shimmers with compassion, one that crosses borders of both nations and emotions. In telling the story of a mother’s love for her son and an intimate, searing portrayal of survival set amidst the Ukrainian Maidan Revolution of 2014, the author has crafted a tale that will linger longer than the half-life of many other books you will read this year. Holloway’s fascination with the intersection of where history meets everyday life has given us a story told with great skill, weaving together the legacy of Chernobyl and the tragedy of human arrogance. She gives us hope that each of us can act with grace and love even in the face of overwhelming disaster and a precarious world. Sadly for us, it is even more necessary for us to hear these stories today.'  Alex Lockwood, author of The Chernobyl Privileges

'A careful, tender and arresting story that explores how we're formed by the places we think we own - I was moved by this suspenseful and delicate novel.' Jenn Ashworth, author of Ghosted


Philippa Holloway is a writer and academic with a varied career history that includes being a goatherd, a medical technician at a racing circuit, and a library assistant. Her short fiction has been published internationally, and her debut novel, The Half-life of Snails was longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje prize for ‘a distinguished work evoking the spirit of place,’ and has been featured in an international podcast, serialised in a national newspaper, and praised on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row as ‘powerful, evocative... a terrific book.’