This Party's Got To Stop

Rupert Thomson

Published: 5 May 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781847081742


In his first venture into non-fiction, the celebrated novelist Rupert Thomson has produced one of the most extraordinary and unforgettable memoirs of recent years. On a warm, sunny day in July 1964, Thomson returned home from school to discover that his mother had died suddenly while playing tennis. Twenty years later, Thomson and his brothers receive word that their father, who suffered chronic lung damage during the war, has died alone in hospital. In an attempt to come to terms both with their own loss and with their parents' legacies, the three brothers move back into their father's house. The time they spend in this decadent, anarchic commune leads to a rift between Thomson and his youngest brother, a rift that will not be addressed for more than two decades. This Party's Got to Stop works Thomson's memories into a powerful mosaic that reveals the fragility of family life in graphic and often heartbreaking detail. It is both a love letter to a lost brother and a chronicle of the murderousness and longing that can characterize blood relationships.

About the author

Image of Rupert Thomson

Rupert Thomson is the author of eight highly acclaimed novels, Dreams of Leaving, The Five Gates of Hell, Air and Fire, The Insult (one of David Bowie's 100 Favourite Reads), Soft, The Book of Revelation, Divided Kingdom and Death of a Murderer, which was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award. His memoir This Party's Got to Stop was published by Granta Books in 2009. His latest novel is Secrecy published by Granta Books in 2013. More about the author


Lord of the Flies with grown-ups’ Libby Purves



This Party's Got to Stop has the unsettling combination of very precise, often witty prose applied to deep pain, like fine stitches applied, over and over again, to a wound that, despite everything, remains wide open’ Craig Brown

‘A beautifully written memoir’

‘A brave book ... a memoir sure to delight’

‘A clever, funny book, uncomfortably honest and in places even rather moving’ Angus Clarke

‘A compelling family portrait, pre-order it and drop it into conversation - now’ Lauren Laverne

‘A completely brilliant book. Spikily funny, very dark and beautifully constructed’

‘A disarmingly candid memoir ... written in the precise, wiry prose that brings hallucinatory intensity to his fiction. As a gift of rapprochement to a long-estranged brother it seems so heartfelt and generous that Thomson must be glad he chose not publish anonymously. And for our sake, we can be glad he didn't wait until after he was dead’ Alfred Hickling

‘A masterpiece ... a humanely funny, wryly anarchic glance at how the people we love impact on our lives when physically they're no longer there’ Rachel Halliburton, Book of the Week

‘A moving funny and honest tragedy’

‘A movingly dark, humorous account’ Jay Richardson

‘A quiet tour de force, a powerful emotional journey ... Moving, enjoyable and constantly surprising’

‘A terrific memoir of grief and loss at the deaths of two parents, shot through with moments of black comedy’ Aidan Smith

‘Acclaimed novelist Rupert Thomson has astounded me with the quality of his writing. With elegant, funny and, at times, heartbreaking prose he chronicles the deaths of both of his parents, his mother when he was young and then, as an adult living away from home, his father. The aftermath and the fragile relationships between him and his brothers are explored with great sensitivity’ Sarah Clarke

‘An intriguingly unconventional memoir’ Gerard Woodward

‘Darkly comic, disturbing, strange and ultimately humane, Thomson's is a memoir that discovers love and human kindness in the most unexpected places’ Adam O’Riordan

‘Elegant, beautifully observed and captivatingly atmospheric’ Eithne Farry

‘Excellent novelist Rupert Thomson turns his hand to what looks like it might be the stand-out memoir of the coming year

‘From the first page of this memoir, as a young boy hears the voice of his soon-to-doe mother, we enter that zone of eerie clarity allied t soul-deep doubt that all readers of Thomson's fictions will know... This outstanding novelist has managed to craft an autobiography that equals his fiction in its sinister glamour.’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Full of neat little vignettes ... this memoir combines charm, sharpness and high emotion to devastating effect’ D. J. Taylor

‘Gorgeously evocative, meticulously pared-down’

‘He portrays the aftermath of his father's death in a way that is emotionally honest and genuinely affecting ... Mr Thomson's descriptive powers are deft, observations ring true but are never trite’

‘It remains intriguing to watch the novelist in Thomson, with his sure eye for the uncanny, peer into his fractured family history’ Robert Collins

‘One of the most original British novelists at work today ... a haunting, haunted work’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Painfully honest and blackly funny stuff from a writer at the top of his game’

‘Rupert Thomson is a master of detail. He observes the aftermath [of his father's death] with painful precision: we watch as his deepest emotions are revealed. Every encounter, every phone call and every memory is described lovingly and powerfully ... It's excellent’

‘Rupert Thomson is a master of detail. He observes the aftermath with painful precision; we watch as his deepest emotions are revealed. Every encounter, every phone call and every memory is described lovingly and powerfully. He tells you exactly what it's like to step into his childhood home, to be present when his father's will is read. It is excellent’ William Leith

‘This is a raw and touching memoir about family relationships from the acclaimed novelist Rupert Thomson’

‘This unsettling memoir is funny, moving and disturbing. Thomson is a novelist but here he writes about his family.’ Anna Scott

‘This walk through a family's buried shadows continually takes the reader by surprise ...the memoir is often touching when it confronts that bizarre absence of reason that can shape people's lives ... Thomson's jagged, offhand style only throws his grief into even sharper relief’ Claire Allfree

‘Thomson tells his story brilliantly. His language is clear, his dialogue flawless and his evocation of political and social context fastidiously accurate. The most arresting feature of this memoir [is] its brutal candour ... a beautifully made literary artefact’ Carlo Gébler

‘Thomson's debut work of nonfiction simmers with all the sinister unease and matchless eye for the uncanny of his novels’ Robert Collins

‘Thomson's moving portrait of three young brothers struggling with the death of their parents explores the true complexity of family’ Adam Forrest

‘Thomson's narrative skills as a novelist give this family portrait a disturbing literary duality, even when some edgy reconciliation and resolution is achieved’ Iain Finlayson

‘Throughout the book, Thomson neatly captures the way your family background seems both stranger and more important as the years pass ... He writes with a winning kindliness that never turns soppy’ James Walton

‘Very funny ... Rupert Thomson is such an attentive writer, and the quality of his attention brings the smallest incidents to life’

‘Wonderfully dark, relentlessly slippery ... It's a tantalising picture of three young men who are trying to decide which parts of their childhoods - and themselves - to retrieve and cling on to. Everything? Nothing? The question feels urgent, exciting, anarchic ... I read this entire memoir with my breath held. It's a piece of writing so desperately honest, so full of warmth and unease and emotional daring, that you can't help but be pulled along’ Julie Myerson

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