Burntcoat by Sarah Hall: a frenzied, devastating novel of a world in flames

A feverish, beautifully observed novel about sickness, love and loss

Sarah Hall started writing her novel on the first day of lockdown in March 2020, imagining herself as a kind of first responder, trying to document a world that was suddenly “eerily shrouded and in jeopardy”.

Sarah Hall started writing her novel on the first day of lockdown in March 2020, imagining herself as a kind of first responder, trying to document a world that was suddenly “eerily shrouded and in jeopardy”.

If the first page of a novel should encapsulate the book as a whole, then Burntcoat manages to go one further, achieving this with its short and startling opening line: “Those who tell stories survive.” What follows is a feverish, beautifully observed novel about sickness, love and loss.

Sarah Hall began writing Burntcoat on the first day of lockdown in March 2020, imagining herself as a kind of first responder in her capacity as a writer, trying to document a world that was suddenly, as she puts it, “eerily shrouded and in jeopardy”. The result is a deeply unsettling and empathetic read.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.