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Winner of the 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction
Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.
Helen knows what she must do, and purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive.
A bleakly comic debut that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and unsettling, Sorry to Disrupt the Peace has shades of Bernhard, Beckett and Bowles—and it announces the singular voice of Patty Yumi Cottrell.
‘[Cottrell’s] voice is unflinching, unforgettable, and animated with a restless sense of humor.’
‘This book is not a diversion—it’s a lifeline.’
‘Intelligent and mysterious and funny, Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace moves so mesmerizingly towards its blazingly good ending. One is tempted to read it as quickly as possible. But really, it is a book that should be read slowly, as some of its deepest pleasures lie in the careful observations, the witty prose, and just the book’s really wonderful gaze on city life, and actually, on all life. This is a stunning debut.’
‘A sort of Korean-American noir, lean and wry and darkly compelling, I respectfully suggest you read her now.’
‘Patty Yumi Cottrell’s prose does so many of my favorite things–some too subtle to talk about without spoiling, but one thing I have to mention is the way in which her heroine’s investigation of a suicide draws the reader right into the heart of this wonderfully spiky hedgehog of a book and then elbows us yet further along into what is ultimately a tremendously moving act of imagination.’
‘Sorry to Disrupt the Peace had me opening my mouth to laugh only to feel sobs come tumbling out. It’s absurd, feeling so much at once, but it’s a distinctly human absurdity that Patty Yumi Cottrell has masterfully created in this book. In the end I felt ebullient and spent, grateful to be reminded that life is only funny and gorgeous because life is also strange and sad.’
‘Grief takes an unnerving path through a singular mind in Sorry to Disrupt the Peace. Beckett fans will find a familiar, but Patty Yumi Cottrell’s voice is her very own.’
‘Behind every suicide, there is a door.’ So says Helen, aka Sister Reliability, aka ‘spinster from a book,’ who is determined to open the door behind her adoptive brother’s recent death. Her search takes her from a studio apartment in NYC to a childhood home in Milwaukee, and yet the investigation is as philosophical as it is practical, as was, perhaps, the death itself. Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a beguiling debut: absurdly funny, surprisingly beautiful, and ultimately sad as fuck.’
‘Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic.’
‘A bleakly funny comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and viscerally unsettling.’
‘A singular voice.’
‘Poignant, unsettling and funny.’
‘Patty Yumi Cottrell’s remarkable debut Sorry to Disrupt the Peace possesses something of the deadpan strangeness of Jane Bowles’s Two Serious Ladies, yet the book is electrifying in its freshness…The result is a sort of existential detective hunt—equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking.’
‘Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is animated by the humour, heart and sheer doggedness of Helen’s narrative voice. She’s a wonderfully layered and conflicted character—brilliant but unhinged, erratic but deeply empathetic—and the author brings her to life in a way that is as vivid and fully imagined as it is entertaining.’
‘Cottrell opens the door into an alternative kind of existence, and to characters who may not usually be foregrounded. An addictive and darkly entertaining new writer.’
‘Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a book without the grace and consolation sought and sometimes found in the literature of the bereaved. In their place, the disquieting, ungainly and unresolved are pushed to the fore, with often haunting results…Some novels thrive on plot and others on voice, and this one is all voice: a totalising, inescapable concoction of lurching, woozy, abrasive glory…It’s a tough read at times, but a necessary one.’