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Reviews

  • Ethan Hawke is a true writer and his duality as an artist is skilfully reflected in A Bright Ray of Darkness. Hawke circles, descends, and crawls into his characters' skin. Grimy shadows pass over the footlights, into the bowels of the theatre, where a struggling actor, perhaps mirroring the writer, seeks the vine of redemption, and claws his way into becoming. Bright Ray is a riveting work.

    Patti Smith
  • William is the star of this vivid drama from Ethan Hawke ... this is ultimately a book about the transcendent value of great art ... it communicates a real power.

    Sunday Times
  • Film star William Harding is fed up with having his personal life examined in public. The protagonist of this novel, the first in five years from Hawke (best known for his acting role in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy), is also disgusted at the ways in which he has allowed his marriage to collapse around him. His debut Broadway role offers him a chance at redemption and turns this bracing book into a considered meditation on the evil of celebrity and the demanding yet restorative power of theatre.

    New Statesman
  • Ethan Hawke, whose acting career has combined celebrity wattage with indie integrity, brings hard-won experience to his latest literary endeavour ... [A] wild ride of a book ... Written with real fire & originality. Not many novels combine scenes of lying semi-conscious by a motel toilet with thoughts on the perfection of the iambic pentameter.

    Metro
  • An emotional ode to theatre as medicine for heartbreak, and an interesting meditation on fame.

    Radio Times
  • Ethan Hawke has got a lot of nerve. But he's also got a lot of talent ... What's most irritating about A Bright Ray of Darkness is that it's really good ... A novel that explores the demands of acting and the delusions of manhood with tremendous verve and insight ... Hawke is a genius at conjuring the hush of the auditorium, the thrill of live actors, the magical sense of a performance moving through time. Amid the endless pandemic lockdown, reading this novel with its spirited scene-by-scene re-enactments is the closest I've gotten to live theatre in 10 months ... I want to be immune to Hawke's charms, but I admit it: He's written a witty, wise and heartfelt novel about a spoiled young man growing up and becoming, haltingly, a better person. A Bright Ray of Darkness is a deeply hopeful story about the possibility of rising above one's narcissism. Bravo.

    Ron Charles, Washington Post
  • Hawke blurs the boundaries between past roles and autobiography and brings a world of fame, longing and oblivion into sharp focus.

    BuzzMag
  • William Harding is a successful film star whose life is in turmoil. Outed by the press as an adulterer, he is now holed up in a New York hotel, divorcing his popstar wife while preparing to make his Broadway debut in Henry IV. In his first novel for 20 years, Hawke has obeyed the adage 'write what you know', bringing the theatrical world, from first rehearsal to final performance, thrillingly to life.

    Mail on Sunday
  • ...a fine book, full of narrative drive, illuminating information about the power of the stage, and a storyline that goes at quite a pace, but still has much room for humanity, showing that however big the mistakes people make, and however many people know about those mistakes, there is still the chance of redemption, if you look for it.

    NB
  • This enjoyable literary outing is in the American tradition of writers like Saul Bellow ... The Bellow vibe comes with Harding's active wrestling with his own conscience and it is never a sterile or bloodless reflection as he's a charged-up, sex-driven, cocaine-fuelled, whiskey drinking bloke with chips on his shoulder ... it is Harding's failures as a person that make him real for the reader ... a highly engaging and enjoyable read ... lively and spirited ... As we get on with lockdown after lockdown and a world without plays, gigs, and the community of shared experience this is a novel reminding us to cherish what we are missing.

    Irish Examiner

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