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Mayflies

I’ve just finished Mayflies, the new novel by Andrew O’Hagan (of Be Near Me fame) and I can hand-on-heart report it is profoundly—staggeringly—good. It is a kind-of diptych of a novel with two very elegantly, equally weighted, halves. A group of young Scottish men, positively bursting out of the blocks of their teens and into manhood set off for a big, boozy, hedonistic weekend in Manchester—it is the 1980s and the music scene centred around Factory Records is similarly firing on all cylinders.The second half of the novel is set in a fundamentally more sombre brexit-hued present day. I will admit to starting Mayflies with several preconceptions and a good deal of scepticism. I was confident I did not need yet another novel of testosterone fuelled, rampantly heterosexual men, learning the bitter truths of life and the wisdom of age, or whatever it was going to be about. All I want to say, to avoid spoilers, is I was wrong, and this is easily one of my favourite books of recent years. It is profoundly, ineffably, moving. O’Hagan’s writing has a simple and beautiful cadence to it, at turns transcendent.