Remainder (novel)

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Remainder MetronomeFirstEd.jpg
Cover of the first edition, published by Metronome Press in 2005
AuthorTom McCarthy
CountryUnited Kingdom
Publication date
  • 2005 (Metronome)
  • 13 February 2007 (Vintage)
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages308 pp

Remainder is a 2005 novel by British author Tom McCarthy. It is McCarthy's third published work. It was first written in 2001, although not published until 2005 (in a limited run of 750 copies printed by the French Metronome Press). The novel was later re-printed by UK publishing house Alma Books; Vintage Books printed the book in the United States.[1] The plot revolves around an unnamed narrator who has received a large financial settlement after an accident, and his obsession with recreating half-remembered events from his life before the incident.

Remainder was published to acclaim from critics. McCarthy received the 2007 Believer Book Award for the novel, after its republication.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Remainder tells the story of an unnamed narrator traumatized by an accident which "involved something falling from the sky". Eight and a half million pounds richer due to a compensation settlement but hopelessly estranged from the world around him, Remainder's protagonist spends his time and money paying others to reconstruct and re-enact vaguely remembered scenes and situations from his past. These re-enactments are driven by a need to inhabit the world "authentically" rather than in the "second-hand" manner that his traumatic situation has bequeathed him. When the recreation of mundane events fails to quench this thirst for authenticity, he starts re-enacting more and more violent events.


Like much of McCarthy's work, the novel heavily features repetition and repeated actions. It also deals with amnesia and issues of memory.


Remainder was generally well received by critics. Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Ness called it "splendidly odd".[3] The New Yorker noted that "McCarthy’s portrait of the pursuit of total control is arresting",[4] while Peter Carty, in the Independent, said "McCarthy's prose is precise and unpretentious".[5]

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation written and directed by Israeli artist Omer Fast was released in 2015; it is Fast's first major film.[6]


  1. ^ Ness, Patrick (11 August 2006). "Remainder". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  2. ^ "The Believer - The Believer Book Award". The Believer. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  3. ^ Ness, Patrick (2006-08-11). "Review: Remainder by Tom McCarthy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  4. ^ "Briefly Noted". The New Yorker. 2007-03-05. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  5. ^ "Remainder, by Tom McCarthy". The Independent. 2005-12-12. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  6. ^ Morton, Tom (June 2014). "Novel Idea". Frieze Magazine. Retrieved 27 September 2014.