Praise for Hollow
Winner of the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Award for Fiction
An NPR Best Book of 2017
"With the kind of grace not usually seen in accessible modern fiction, Egerton also invokes many other things with this central metaphor . . . Ollie's voice is one of the most believable I've encountered this year, sustained by honesty, realism, and compassion. In his exile, Ollie has taken stock. His reckoning with the past creates the story's exquisite tension and makes the final scene bloom with tenderness . . . The core of Hollow is anything but." NPR
"An incredibly imaginative examination of grief, faith, and the relationship between the two. Egerton spins out the story of Oliver Bonds, a former religious studies professor who loses everything when his toddler son dies under mysterious circumstances and Bonds’ involvement is scrutinized. Three years later, Bonds is living alone in a remote shack and eating at the soup kitchen he once volunteered for. A grifter with a belief in 'hollow earth' conspiracy theories is the unlikely catalyst for Bonds’ rebirth, as he latches onto a new kind of faith in his search for solace. An unexpectedly thrilling story of sadness and belief." Barnes & Noble Reads pick, 12 Must-Read Indie Novels
"Oliver Bonds, the protagonist of Austin writer Owen Egerton’s third novel, Hollow, is a modern-day Job: a beloved religious studies professor at the University of Texas who, after his toddler son dies, hits bottomand believes he might find some sort of solace in an undiscovered land at the center of the earth. There's profound sorrow to be found here, but great wit too: 'I pictured my monthly paycheck stretched over our expenses like a queen sheet on a king-sized bed.'" Texas Monthly
"Hollow grabs you, startlingly, with the poetry of its first sentence...and follows up with sardonic wit...and an existential quest...Hollow is off-beat, poignant, ultimately beguiling literary fiction." Lone Star Literary Life
"A portrait of heartbreak and loss of faith so wretched it may leave readers with raw nerves." Kirkus Reviews
"Hollow is a work with an animate, vibrant, and awe-inducing core." Foreword Reviews
"Surrounded by characters in various states of mourning, this narrative is a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and guilt." Read It Forward
“I was blown away by Owen Egerton’s achingly beautiful, compulsively readable tale of a man who has lost his son, and himself. Hollow is filled to the brim with wonder and the sadness of being human, and I found myself laughing and tearing up on the same page. This is an adventure story with a tremendous heart. I couldn’t put it down.” Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget
“I've long been a fan of Egerton's dark, probing, and often hilarious novels, but Hollow takes it to the next level. Egerton has crafted a beautifully strange modern take on the 'Book of Job' populated with haunting and hilarious characters worthy of Vonnegut's best. A meditation on grief and love, Hollow is simultaneously heart wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny.” Amanda Eyre Ward, author of The Same Sky
"Owen Egerton has always used his abundant comedic gifts to explore serious, complex subjectse.g., human frailty, faith and morality, love and connection, the funhouse of contemporary American cultureand Hollow is the book in which it all comes together, the work of a copiously talented writer at the top of his game. Our protagonist, a contemporary Job buckling under the weight of profound suffering and losshis own, and that of those who surround him, toois primed for a hero's journey that will get him right with the world again. But Hollow is a surprising book, one that eschews the expected, and his journey ends up being very different from the one heor the readerexpects. There are no easy answers or tidy resolutions, but there's hard-won grace and a hell of a lot of humor along the way." Doug Dorst, author of S.
"In Hollow, Owen Egerton has fashioned a heartbreaking, tragic, yet funny novel about a man facing a tragedy that would be, in anyone else's hands, almost impossible to read, but that, in his hands, is a story difficult to put down." Manuel Gonzales, author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories and The Regional Office is Under Attack!
A religious studies professor wracked by profound grief seeks answers at the center of the world.Egerton (This Word Now, 2016, etc.) visits bottomless tragedy upon his protagonist in this descent into one man's personal hell. Oliver Bonds is reduced to living in a shed behind a beauty parlor in Austin, Texas. Slowly but elegantly, he reveals the circumstances of his toddler son Miles' sudden death three years earlier. We learn that Miles died while Oliver was having a moment of temptation with a student, Ashley Briggers, now his counselor at the local homeless shelter. Oliver's trouble is multiplied when he's charged with his son's murder. His wife, Carrie, pregnant with a second son, sticks with him until his indiscretion is revealed during the trial. Now Oliver watches his son Archer at day care, a child who doesn't even know he exists. "Jesus, oh Jesus, I believed—as I had been taught by every film, every song, every Easter sermon—that love could conquer all," Oliver tells us. "That love could survive all. It is not true." Yet Egerton breaks up the awfulness of it all by surrounding Oliver with a colorful cast of characters. The most oddball is Lyle Burnside, a vagabond con artist and member of the local Hollow Earth Society, an organization planning an expedition to the North Pole to find the fabled entrance to the Earth's core. "Manuel told me I could go mad or go God," Oliver explains. "But there's another option. I'll carry my complaints to the center of the world and ask why the world is the way the world is." Oliver also visits Martin, a terminally ill patient he was helping with hospice care prior to his son's death. Martin is living with a violent pimp named Sam and a prostitute named Laika, who may not be what she seems. There is murder here, and forgiveness, and ultimately a redemption that doesn't necessarily equal resolution. A portrait of heartbreak and loss of faith so wretched it may leave readers with raw nerves.