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O Positive

Joe Dunthorne

The long-awaited debut collection from the multi-talented and ‘superbly economical writer’ (Guardian).

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O Positive is the long-awaited debut collection of poetry from Joe Dunthorne, and it has all the appeal of his widely acclaimed fiction.

Adopting a sunny, genial tone, Dunthorne lures the reader to darker places, exploring death and dread, failure and regret – the ‘lounge of our suffering’. Often, he catches us off-guard: a ‘whiplash’ effect where poems shift from laughter to slaughter in a moment. Impertinent owls, an immersive theatre troupe, ancient men from the Great War and idiot balloonists – such characters dramatise our human fancies and foibles, joining the protagonist in scenarios both humorously bizarre and all-too-familiar. These performances serve to probe and unpeel the layers of the self – all the way down to the raw.

Critic Reviews

‘This slim volume is the debut poetry collection from the author of Submarine and The Adulterants. Dunthorne’s poems, with titles like ‘I wanted to see how unhappy I could get’, are poignant snapshots of modern life – funny, but in a sad sort of way. There are poems about rejection and insecurity, owls and idiot balloonists, and always giving The Signs of Saturn as a calculated gift. There are surprising shifts and moments of tenderness, and every now and then come bursts of joy – like water bombs at a garden party where no one gets along.’

Tatler, 10 Books to Read this Spring
Critic Reviews

[Dunthorne's] debut collection has been keenly awaited. [He] has a comic sensibility with a touch of the bizarre and a keen eye for the foibles of modern life.

Financial Times
Critic Reviews

‘Joe Dunthorne is best known as the author of Submarine (2008), a coming-of-age novel that was adapted for film by Richard Ayoade. But Dunthorne was a poet first. O Positive brims with a mix of faux urbanity and kooky insouciance. Child-thieving owls, deranged hypnotists and melodramatic actors waltz through the book’s bright pages, in which emotion is offset by hipster cool: “I decided to stop therapy / because I was perfect”. At its self-knowing best, O Positive entertains and challenges, but it is also content to impress, “forever calculating / how to present myself”.’

Ben Wilkinson, Guardian
Critic Reviews

‘A superbly economical writer . . . comedy is always balanced by insight and poignancy.’

Critic Reviews

‘[Dunthorne’s] poetry is outstanding. From the first quatrains we know we are in safe hands.’


Joe Dunthorne’s first novel, Submarine, was translated into sixteen languages and adapted for film by Richard Ayoade. His second, Wild Abandon, won the 2012 Encore Award. His latest is The Adulterants. His short stories and poems have been published in Paris Review, London Review of Books and McSweeney’s. He is a striker for the England Writers’ Football Team. He teaches…

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