There is nothing interesting about Ray Eccles. He knows it himself. On the morning of his fortieth birthday, he goes for a walk because he’s just learned of a dormant Second World War explosive offshore, and he’s the kind of man who thinks a bomb might be good company. As he gazes at the sea, a woman in the distance suddenly turns to face him—and a dying seagull falls from the sky, knocking him unconscious.
When Ray wakes up, he’s inexplicably compelled to paint the woman’s image, obsessively and repeatedly: initially on any paper he can find in his house, and thereafter on the walls, using any materials that come to hand, including food and bodily fluids. Discovered by a power couple of Outsider Art, he becomes one of the most celebrated artists of the century, and soon even small-town newspapers are covering his work—which is how Jennifer, the woman on the beach, discovers she’s the subject of the paintings that have set the world on fire, leading her to wonder if a man she’s never met is the only person who has ever really seen her.
Man with a Seagull on His Head is a novel about the impossibility of ever really knowing anyone, and the electric charge that comes from real if unexpected connection. Beautiful, lyrical, and strangely moving, it heralds a wonderful and original new voice.
Praise for Man with a Seagull on his Head
“elegiac…emotionally precise…not only pleasing to the eye, but also profoundly engaging to the heart. A gentle fable about the mystery of artistic creativity.”—Kirkus
Praise for Harriet Paige
“Funny, sharp, engaging and beautifully written… a precious and strange thing. A bona fide gem.”—The Guardian
“Acutely observed and generously imagined this portrait of an accidental artist is as surprising as it is enthralling. It gripped me from the first page. Its last lines are still with me, shimmering with wise promise.” —Maureen Freely