One of the Boys

Daniel Magariel

Published: 6 April 2017
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 160 pages
ISBN: 9781783783465


A father and his boys have won 'the war': the father's term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave Kansas and drive through the night to their new apartment in Albuquerque. Settled in new schools, the brothers join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. Soon his missteps - the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late-night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters - become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching him transform into someone they no longer recognize.

Set in the stark landscape of New Mexico and the family's cramped apartment, One of the Boys delivers a superbly nuanced portrait of a violent and menacing man, manipulating the world around him that it might service his idea of himself. Brutal and urgent, this masterful debut is a story of survival: two brothers driven to protect each other from the father they once trusted.

About the author


‘[An] accomplished debut [...] the blend of slapstick and menace is deliciously uncomfortable: the reader cannot quite revel in his humiliation, for fear of it's consequences... [With] understated candour [One of the Boys] is rendered with skill and sensitivityHouman Barekat



‘[Full of] short sharp shocks [...] the reader learns to be on the edge... Magariel's book, while definitely about the experiences of one particular child, also about something bigger: the abuses perpetrated more generally by a toxic ideal of masculinity... In showing the madness of this attitude through the microcosm of a family, Magariel offers a different way to be a man: sometimes the way to step up is to ask for help’ Eleanor Franzén

One of the Boys is a captivating portrait of a wayward father, brimming with charm and trouble’ Justin Torres

One of the Boys packs a huge emotional punch. This is the unflinching story of an abusive father and his two sons after he takes them away from their mother, told using wonderfully stark prose. I was particularly affected by how the younger son begins to copy his father in believing that his mother deserved the beatings she received. It was heartbreaking to see him continually hope that even after the broken promises his father would change. I read this book in one gulp, gripping the page and willing the boys to escape’ Claire Fuller

A deeply affecting portrait of innocence lost. Like Emma Donoghue's Room, One of the Boys is impossible to resist as we root for these young men to escape their brutal (yet charismatic) father. We feel the strength of the child through Magariel's precise, understated and unflinching prose, which builds in emotion and suspense by keeping us very close to how each moment leads to the next. A beautiful debutDana Spiotta, author

An absolutely standout novel... It left me feeling impressed [and] mournful. A book that you find yourself thinking about weeks later... A stunning writerJenny Parrott

Brilliant, urgent, darkly funny, heartbreaking - a tour de force with startling new things to say about class, masculinity, addiction, and family. Daniel Magariel is an exciting new presence in American writing.’ George Saunders

Dynamic... Magariel relentlessly examines how love survives in the most atrociously violent of situations... Beautiful... Harrowing but importantYvonne Nolan

Remarkably lucid and unsparing. Some passages feel so true, you keep wanting to put the book down to applaud... In one of his many crises, the father challenges his sons, "Tell me one true thing about life... Either of you. Tell me one true thing."... Magariel has triumphantly, unforgettably, told us’ Sandra Newman

Stunning... one of the most striking debut novels of the year... [Magariel] has produced one of the most affecting portrayals of the bonds that keep us tied to family... Compassion and deep understanding of the dynamics of addiction make Daniel Magariel's slim book an important oneJason Diamond

Whip-smart and razor-sharp... Brutal and uncompromising, One of the Boys is a short and intense story... The prose throughout One of the Boys is spare and unflinching, the action delivered in deadpan style, making the grotesqueness of the actual events all the more impactful. The tension on the page is palpable from the very start, and the trajectory of the family's story is utterly compelling, while a smart epilogue throws new light on the journey into darkness that all three main characters have made. Cracking stuff’ Doug Johnstone

‘A meaty, fascinating book’ Granta Stott

‘A well-timed piece of work which gives an unflinching glimpse into the life of two adolescent boys as they grapple with their dysfunctional relationship with their father... Heartbreaking [and] gut-wrenching... [One of the Boys] is an authentic and poignant portrayal of addiction and abuseRabeea Saleem


‘Daniel Magariel's absolutely brilliant and beautiful novel is that rarest thing: an incredibly mature book about kids. Not since I read Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping have I felt so at once in the presence of the magic-logic terrors of childhood and the too real and consequential realms of adults. The children in this novel act like loving, terrified parents; the parents behave like the most destructive of children. Yet Magariel has managed to tell the story of this failing family with so much love and gentleness that the lasting impression of this novel - full of enraging scenes and calamitous decisions - is of the unknowing courage unique to youthRivka Galchen, author

‘Impressive... With deft, impactful prose [Magariel] conveys complex ideas about the way this boy's specific upbringing warps his conception about his identity, life and the way men should behave... With its moving story, this novel [...] will continue to resonate with me for a long time’ Eric Anderson

‘Magariel's portrayal of parental treachery, youthful courage and lost innocence is gripping and disquieting’ Carys Bray

‘Reading with eyes glued to the page, full-pelt, non-stop [...] it's not an easy read but it's a real good one, with exceptionally careful writing... Everyone should read it... Frightening, touching and educative - highly recommended’ Jane Davis

‘Set in stifling Albuquerque, this debut novel [is] a companion to Breaking Bad [...] in its unflinching portrayal of abusers [...] in vivid yet spare prose’ Dan Einav

‘Spine-chilling... Magariel packs an impressive amount of emotion into his short book. Readers will root for the brothers, whose love for each other comes across on the page as simultaneously heroic and credible’ Sarah Gilmartin

‘Told in prose that's spare and concise, this is a heartbreaking but compelling portrait of a childhood twisted by a controlling parent, as well as the unbreakable bond between brothers’ Fanny Blake

‘With a charismatic, macho, drug-addicted dad, the young narrator pays an awful price to be One of the Boys in the riveting, debut novel by Daniel Magariel. Move over Great Santini, this patriarch is rendered with such artful love, you'll be haunted by his presence long after you close this graceful and heartbreaking bookMary Karr

‘Written in spare but elegant prose [...] One of the Boys is a disturbing evocation, without even the slightest hint of sentimentality, of a fiercely powerful relationship between a father and his young son, one where intense love sits alongside rage, paranoia, and an all-consuming need for control’ Josh Phillips

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