Daniel sits on a clifftop in the aftermath of a party at Fin’s mansion, looking out over a junky sea. Daniel’s not sure why they’re there, or who Fin is, even though Fin seems to be somebody famous. To find out, Daniel must tell Fin the story of their childhood, going back to a small salt-mining town in The North, a visit from their now-estranged cousin Crystal, and the life and losses of their salt-miner father, Mika.

Taking us from bus shelters to playgrounds to McDonalds, from the depth of a salt mine to a nightclub toilet, Daniel describes their world of soap operas, sunglasses, newspaper clippings and Princess Diana, steering Fin through the events that led up to The Great Subsidence, when their town and the mine that sustained it collapsed. As Daniel tells their story, they come to learn they’re in a place called Never Was, a limbo for lost dreams and disappointments, a landfill for things that never came to be, but also a place of change and transition. Dreamy, poignant, and revelatory, Never Was is a bewitching and inventive novel by an inimitable voice in literary fiction.

H. Gareth Gavin is a writer from Birmingham. Midland: A Novel Out of Time (Penned in the Margins, 2014) was shortlisted for the 2015 Gordon Burn Prize and his short story, ‘Home Death’, was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2019/20. Funny Queer, a hand-sewn limited edition collection of stories, was published by the Aleph Press in 2021. His work has appeared in publications such as Hotel, Short Fiction, the Architectural Review, and Prototype (Anthology 4), and he is also the author of a critical book exploring the encounter between early twentieth-century literature and silent film. An essay on transmasculinity and femininity, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me,’ takes its title from a Muriel Spark ghost story and is collected in Queer Life, Queer Love (Muswell Press, 2021). He currently teaches in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester.

ISBN 9781739784966 / Paperback / £11.99