Jo Harkin

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Like Nothing Happened

book | Fiction | Jan 2021
UK & Comm excluding Canada → Penguin (Ed. Charlotte Cray)
US & Canada → Simon & Schuster (Ed. Valerie Steiker)

Noor is a psychologist and a jobsworth. Employed by the Nepenthe clinic her days involve seeing patients post op. With a detached indifference she leads them through the aftercare process of having a memory removed. So far, so sci fi.

But Noor is deeply bored by the process. Her day-to-day interactions with nervous clients have been made more wearisome by a recent court ruling. Swayed by complaints of ‘traces’ and troubling side-effects the courts have instructed Nepenthe to write to every person who has ever had a memory removed and offer them the chance to have it back. (Ever want to really freak someone out — offer to restore a traumatic memory they can’t remember having had removed in the first place).
But in the wake of the ruling Noor learns that her boss has been contacting individuals to persuade them not to go ahead with their restorations. Noor starts to dig into what Louise might want with some of her ex-patients and learns just how easily corruptible the system she has served might be.

Noor’s story weaves in and out of those of six ex-patients who having received the Nepenthe’s letter must try to decide what to do. Trying to ignore the letter is like ignoring the whisper ‘I know a secret about you’. And in this case the secret is one you chose to excise. How bad could it be? What did you do? What did your wife do? Is your child really your child? Is this missing piece the answer to why you feel so stuck? Do you take a bite of the apple? Or live with the knowledge that something significant in your past will forever exist behind a closed door. And which of these patients is Louise so desperate to track down?

As the characters each grapple with this new knowledge about themselves the book slides through their intimate histories and examines love, fear, desire and regret. At its heart is the question of identity and who we become if we deny ourselves life experiences, however difficult.

Rights

Sarah Harvey manages the translation rights for Like Nothing Happened

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Felicity Blunt
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Hillary Jacobson
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Translation Rights
Sarah Harvey

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