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Now Is Not the Time to Panic

Now Is Not the Time to Panic

Kevin Wilson

  • awardShortlisted, Southern Book Prize, United States, 2023
  • Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—is determined to make it through yet another sad summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who is as lonely and awkward as she is.

    As romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, Frankie and Zeke make an unsigned poster that becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it. Copies of their work are everywhere in town, and rumours start to fly about who might be behind the ubiquitous posters: Satanists? Kidnappers? Soon, the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread further afield, and the art that brought Frankie and Zeke together now threatens to tear them apart.

    Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge—famous author, mother to a wonderful daughter, wife to a loving husband—gets a call that threatens to upend everything: a journalist asks if Frances might know something about the Coalfield Panic of 1996. Could Frances’ past destroy the life she has so carefully built?

    A bold coming-of-age story, written with Kevin Wilson’s trademark wit and blazing prose, Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a nuanced exploration of young love, identity and the power of art. It’s also about the secrets that haunt us—and, ultimately, what the truth will set free.


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    Kevin Wilson
    About the Author

    Kevin Wilson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing to See Here, as well as the novels The Family Fang and Perfect Little World, and the short-story collections Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and Baby You’re Gonna Be Mine. He lives with his family in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he is an associate professor in the English...

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    31 October 2023
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    Praise for Kevin Wilson
    andNow Is Not the Time to Panic

    ‘Just like all of Kevin’s books, Now is Not the Time to Panic is totally its own thing: mysterious, hypnotic, wonderful. I love following his brain, wherever it goes.’

    ‘This is a wildly funny, wonderfully sincere—and a little bit devastating—story of art, our limitless past, future nostalgia and all those perfectly imperfect ways we continually come of age. Kevin Wilson’s books are so full of heart. They’re utterly indelible.’

    ‘A big-hearted nerdy romance that evolves into a more ambivalent meditation on the power of art.’

    ‘Captur[ing]…wonder and magical thinking.’

    Now is Not the Time to Panic is a tender and humorous coming-of-age novel that explores the trials, pain and wonder of adolescence and artistic pursuit.’

    ‘[A] delightful coming-of-age novel.’

    ‘A sweet story about self-discovery, growth, secrets, mistakes and the radical, transformative power of art…Wilson perfectly evokes how complicated it was to navigate culture before the internet.’

    ‘Gorgeous… might just break your heart.’

    ‘The great strength of this book lies in Frankie and Zeke and their relationship. A book to read and reflect on.’

    ‘Amazing premise…A great contemporary art novel.’

    ‘A buoyant tribute to small-town life…Wilson adeptly evokes what it was like to be a creative kid in the 1990s…A charming story.’

    ‘Wilson has developed a story that is a precise capture of adolescence and of two vibrant teens whose everyday dilemmas, weaknesses, and triumphs are utterly endearing. If the denouement feels a little pat, it is more than made up for by the crisp dialog and the zipping story line that takes us there.’

    ‘[An] emotionally acute peek into the inner life of the artist…A warm, witty two-hander.’

    ‘Full of compassion and gentle humour, this is a wise and winning novel about how youth haunts and defines us.’

    ‘[Kevin Wilson] returns with another quirky offering.’

    ‘Wilson writes that rare kind of fiction: weird, bighearted, sui generis literature that is eagerly awaited by critics and readers alike.’

    ‘Wilson has a gift…Wilson’s stories manage to be unexpected, totally new, and yet gets to the heart of human experience in the most familiar way.’

    Now Is Not the Time to Panic has the feel of a long-gestating work: a novel about creativity and childhood that seems as though its author has been mulling it since his own youth…Coloured by Wilson’s appealingly offbeat prose, so that even the most straightforward coming-of-age moments have a funky freshness.’

    ‘Another irreverent tale of wanton young people, hidden histories, and all the ways our former selves can come back to haunt us, presented in a pitch-perfect blend of delightful, improbable plotting and wildly humanist prose.’

    ‘Wilson…keeps getting better.’

    ‘Will make you grin from ear to ear…There’s so much to love about this book…but the best part is reading about two kids who are having the time of their lives. Their sense of adventure, joyous obsessions and life-altering friendship is infectious.’

    ‘The gold Wilson sought has been found.’

    ‘Heartbreakingly honest…Wilson so eloquently captures that unique time in one’s life when one small gesture of artistic self-expression…really does have the power to change the world, or at least your perception of it.’

    ‘If you have any interest in joy-reading, then run out today and pick up Now Is Not the Time to Panic, the latest glorious novel from Kevin Wilson…Frankie’s voice is so clear and compelling, her inner life so well-drawn…There is immense gratification in the final quarter of the novel.’

    ‘A seductive, highly imaginative story that testifies to the transformative power of art.’

    ‘Kevin Wilson once again deploys his customary humorous, off-centre storytelling to artfully delve into deeper matters…Wilson’s deceptively transparent prose, with a touch of humour, a dash of satire and a good bit of insight, carries the reader to a humane and satisfying conclusion.’

    ‘[Wilson] spins tales so droll and clever and casually surreal, it feels less like reading than falling in with a delightfully subversive new friend…Now Is Not the Time to Panic [is] the tender offbeat tale of two teen misfits.’

    ‘A book destined to become a cult classic, if not just a classic, period…Never ceases to entertain. Frankie and Zeke are wholly original characters, their lives painful and true, and while this is a novel you can read in a single sitting, it is best devoured slowly, a treat for the heart and mind.’

    ‘Kevin’s book will hit you over the head with humanity…Will make you feel all the great things.’

    ‘[A] tender, moving novel by an author who understands how truly bizarre ordinary life is.’

    ‘Heartbreakingly honest…with an “us against the world” feel and punk-rock spirit.’

    ‘I was so engrossed by the specific and singular world Wilson created that I read the book in one sitting.’

    ‘[A] tender, darkly comic tale about a pair of youthful misfits empowered by a clandestine act of subversive art-making…[Wilson writes] evocative tragicomic stories about family, friendship, love and art that end on a note of cautious optimism. And honestly, isn’t that the best we can reasonably hope for in life?’

    ‘Wilson’s latest novel shows us again that he is at the top of his game, infusing this coming-of-age tale with his trademark sharp wit and deep understanding of love and the uncertainty that comes with fading youth.’

    ‘An exuberant novel about the transformative power of art.’

    ‘Utterly inventive and outward-looking…Wilson’s fiction will have you laughing so much that you’re not prepared for the gut punch that follows.’

    ‘[There’s] real delight to be found in Now Is Not the Time to Panic…To steal from [Jenny] Holzer, “In a dream I read a Kevin Wilson novel, and I was filled with joy.”’

    ‘While this is a novel you can read in a single sitting, it is best devoured slowly, a treat for the heart and mind.’

    ‘I tore through it in fewer than twenty-four hours.’

    ‘The mind of Kevin Wilson is a very interesting place to visit.’

    ‘[A] warm-hearted and melancholy novel…Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a terrific novel about art, adolescence, and the ways only your best friend can hurt you.’

    ‘Readers can always count on Kevin Wilson to introduce them to memorable characters, and his new novel is one of the best yet, an imaginative journey filled with an unforgettable cast of small-town personalities.’

    ‘Wilson’s novel about art, friendship, loyalty and so many other things still has me reeling. You will love these rebel teens so much you’ll be skinny with hunger.’

    ‘Completely original…I’ve never read anything quite like this book, which is saying a lot! I loved the unique premise, all of the characters, and how Wilson writes with thoughtfulness, fun, speed, and humour. With this book, he’s cemented himself as one of my favourite authors.’

    ‘Wilson masterfully explores the capacity of art to transcend the vision of its creators…Now is Not the Time to Panic is a dynamic, deftly crafted, and indelibly offbeat coming-of-multiple-ages story.’

    ‘I just read Now Is Not the Time to Panic, by Kevin Wilson, and found his adolescent characters original and heartbreaking.’

    ‘A witty and charming coming-of-age story.’

    Other editions ofNow Is Not the Time to Panic
    • Now Is Not the Time to Panic
      ISBN: 9781922791122
      15 November 2022
      Buy ebook
    • Now Is Not the Time to Panic
      ISBN: 9781911231424
      15 November 2022