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M.J. Hyland Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

How the Light Gets In (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Carry Me Down (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
This Is How (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Even Pretty Eyes (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The BBC International Short Story Award 2012(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Spindles(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

M.J. Hyland
Maria Joan Hyland is a former lawyer. She was born in London in 1968 to Irish parents and she spent her early childhood in Dublin. She studied law and English at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

She has won the Hawthornden Prize and the Encore Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Maria’s been longlisted for the Orange Prize (2004 and 2009), the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (2004 and 2007), and “This is How” was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. “How the Light Gets In” won The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist Award.

At the University of Manchester she has run fiction workshops alongside Colm Tolbin, Martin Amis, and Jeanette Winterson. She’s run Fiction Masterclass Programme, has twice been shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Prize, and has published in The Guardian How to Write series and the LRB, the Financial Times, Granta, and elsewhere.

Her short fiction has been published in various places, including Zoetrope: All Story (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008), Best Australian Short Stories (2006 & 2008), Blackbook Magazine (2004, 2006, 2007). A short story called “Other People’s Beds” was longlisted for the EFG £30,000 Sunday Times Short Story Award in 2014. One of her short stories has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize USA in 2008.

She has made over two dozen appearances on international and national radio, including RTE (Ireland), Radio 4, PBS (US), the BBC World Service, The ABC (Australia), Radio 3, and has been a guest of nine major literary festivals, including the Hay-On-Wye and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Maria’s been appointed writer-in-residence in programs like Arizona State University’s Workshop Programme (February of 2014) and writer-in-residence at Griffith University, Australia (August of 2013). She’s also appeared at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Crossing Borders and the Brisbane Writers’ Festival.

“How the Light Gets In” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2003. Lou Connor, an unhappy yet gifted sixteen year old, is desperate to escape from her life of poverty in Sydney, Australia. She gets offered a place as an exchange student at a college in Illinois, it appears as if her dreams will be fulfilled.

The Hardings, her host family, has got a beautiful big house in Illinois and could not be more welcoming to her. Everything’s perfect. Until she begins having to live in the repressed and suffocating atmosphere of their suburban mansion and stuff begins going horribly wrong.

This is a darkly humorous and intelligent study of human aspiration, self-sabotage, and the alienation and dislocation felt by an outsider. With Lou Connor, M. J. Hyland’s created an unforgettable and complex protagonist that mesmerizes the reader with her vulnerability and vivacity, from hopeful beginning to an unexpected and haunting conclusion.

Hyland’s dialogue is compelling and natural, with characters that are magnificent. This is the type of book you’d pull out on an elevator, even just to read about half a page, because it just propels forward. The book is totally gripping, with a creepy and flawed lead character that engages your sympathies from the beginning and never loses them.

“Carry Me Down” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2006. This is an engrossing tale that at its heart examines this adolescent’s tough time navigating the world. John Egan’s a misfit, a twelve year old trapped in a grown man’s body with a giant’s voice. He diligently keeps track of the lies both large and small that get told to him. He has been able to detect lies for as long as he’s able to remember; it is a source of power yet also great consternation for somebody so young.

With a keenly inquisitive mind, his obsession for the Guinness Book of World Records, and a sort of faith, he stays hopeful despite the unfavorable cards that life deals to him. John is like a tuning fork, sensitive to the vibrations inside of himself and the trouble this creates for him and the rest of his family, and after his sanity approaches collapse, this frightening family catastrophe threatens to destroy them.

This is an emotionally taut, restrained, and occasionally oddly funny portrait whose drama pushes toward, yet narrowly averts, unthinkable disaster.

John is a rather convincing creation, with an incredibly believable mixture of geekiness and naivety.

“This is How” is the third stand alone novel and was released in 2007. This novel is a deeply moving and psychologically probing account of one man at odds with the world.

Patrick Oxtoby is a perpetual outsider who longs to find his niche. After his fiance breaks their engagement off, he leaves home and moves to this remote seaside village. In spite of his hopes for a better and new life, Patrick struggles to fit in or even make the right impression. He cannot shake the feeling that these new friends of his are conspiring against him, which further fractures his already fragile personality and prompts him to take a course of action which permanently alters the course of his life.

Hyland delivers a mesmerizing and meticulously drawn portrait of a guy whose unease in the world the way it is leads to his tragic undoing. With astute insight and breathtaking wisdom into the human mind, her latest masterpiece which arouses sympathy and horror in equal measure.

Patrick narrates his story in the first person. Clearly and simply, reporting facts, conversations, and events. And it’s somehow gripping, it truly is.

“This is How” was nominated for Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for Best Book.

“Even Pretty Eyes” is the fourth stand alone novel and was released in 2024. The year is 1986. Sydney, Australia, the fading of an overheated and long summer. Jimmy Bradley is a young detective sergeant and he is in trouble. He is deep in debt and Trudy (his mercurial wife) wants to get divorced. But she will stay on a single condition. He needs to ‘get his act together’.

This is the compulsive and thrilling story about a guy that will do anything to save his warped marriage, a piercing and raw account of obsession, infidelity, betrayal, and the botched kidnap of this ten year old child.

Book Series In Order » Authors » M.J. Hyland

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