‘I blame the pencil. I hadn’t meant to do it. I wasn’t thinking. It just happened that way.’
In March 2020, as lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey published a sketch on social media, with a plan to keep posting a drawing a day from his family home in Austin, Texas, until life returned to normal. One hundred and fifty pencil stubs later, he was still drawing.
Carey’s hand moved with world events, chronicling pandemic and politics. It reached into the past, taking inspiration from history, and escaped grim reality through flights of vivid imagination and studies of the natural world. The drawings became a way of charting time, of moving forward, and maintaining connection at a time of isolation.
This remarkable collection of words and drawings from the acclaimed author of Little and The Swallowed Man charts a tumultuous year in pencil, finding beauty amid the horror of extraordinary times.
Featuring an Introduction by Max Porter
Max Porter is the author of three novels. His debut, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, won the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award. Max lives in Bath with his family.
‘Characterful images are bound together here with words of wistfulness and modest hope’ The Observer
‘[A] charming lockdown memoir. Perfect gift for doodlers+ illustrators – one day RBG, the next a walrus – made me want to take up drawing again!’ Margaret Atwood (@margaretatwood)
‘Edward Carey probably didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he committed to tweeting a daily lockdown drawing, but the results are the best thing by far to come out of a horrible year. Whether a startled moggy or a panda-eyed Hamlet, each drawing is stamped with Carey’s unique style and off-kilter sensibility. B: A Year in Plagues & Pencils is a constant delight’ Graeme Macrae Burnet
‘There is so much sharp grace and so much generosity in Carey’s art; I loved this book, for its beauty, and for its tenacity of heart’ Katherine Rundell, author of The Good Thieves
‘A magical Wunderkammer book of monsters, wild things and heroes’ Jeff Young, author of Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay
‘Once again Edward Carey has produced a remarkable book… Those house arrested days when we mourned together, feared together, loved together as planet are recorded. Birds and writers gather. Injustices howl and graves multiply. And still human beings add beauty to reality – and hope. As Carey writes ‘There’s magic in the ordinary.’ The best of us uncover it and pass it on. This book contains magic’ A. L. Kennedy
Praise for Edward Carey
‘Startlingly original’ The Times
‘Don’t miss this eccentric charmer’ @MargaretAtwood
‘A playful writer whose charming sentences are works of careful craftsmanship’ Washington Post
‘Inspired’ New York Times
‘[The Swallowed Man is] a marvellous feat of storytelling that dives deep into the madness accompanying solitude and creativity’ Daily Mail
‘Haunting … beautiful … [The Swallowed Man] offers much in which to luxuriate’ Sunday Times