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Fiction Coming Of Age


by (author) Neil Smith

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Jan 2016
Coming of Age, Literary, Ghost
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price

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Boo is the highly anticipated debut novel from one of the most incomparable voices in Canadian literature: Bang Crunch author Neil Smith.
          Oliver Dalrymple, nicknamed "Boo" because of his pale complexion and staticky hair, is an outcast at his Illinois middle school--more interested in biology and chemistry than the friendship of other kids. But after a tragic accident, Boo wakes up to find himself in a very strange sort of heaven: a town populated only by 13-year-old Americans. While he desperately wants to apply the scientific method to find out how this heaven works (broken glass grows back; flashlights glow without batteries; garbage chutes plummet to nowhere), he's confronted by the greatest mystery of all--his peers. With the help of his classmate Johnny, who was killed at the same time, Boo begins to figure out what exactly happened to them (and who they really were back in America) through this story about growing up, staying young and the never-ending heartbreak of being 13.

About the author

A three-time nominee for the Journey Prize, Neil Smith published his debut collection, Bang Crunch, with Knopf Canada in 2007. It was later published in America, Britain, France, Germany, and India. It was chosen as a best Book of the year by the Washington Post and the Globe and Mail. His second book, a novel called Boo, was published in May 2015 with Vintage Books in the U.S., William Heinemann in Britain, and Knopf in Canada.

Neil Smith's profile page


  • Short-listed, Canadian Library Association - Young Adult Canadian Book Award
  • Short-listed, Sunburst Award
  • Winner, Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
  • Winner, Prix du premier roman quebecois de la Biennale litteraire des Cedres

Editorial Reviews

WINNER 2015 – QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction

“Instantly charming, never predictable, quietly profound—Boo is both literarily and literally haunting and, in the end, devastating.” 
—Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of Seconds and the Scott Pilgrim series

“Part murder mystery, part existential adventure, Boo is an utter charm-bomb of a novel. Neil Smith’s version of the sweet hereafter shows not only that heaven can be hell, but answers the eternal question of whether it’s better to be dumber with friends or smarter without.” 
—Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

“Neil Smith has created a heaven where the sadness and triumph of life aren’t flattened or diminished but heightened and intensified. Just like you always suspected it would be. Boo is sad, beautiful, heartbreaking and impossible to put down.” 
—Andrew Kaufman, author of All My Friends Are Superheroes and Born Weird

Boo is an astoundingly original novel and Neil Smith’s take on the afterlife is convincing, moving, and often funny as hell. A vision equal parts Murakami and South Park.”
—Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes

“Who knew heaven could be so funny, so perilous, so exquisitely alive? Boo is a work of singular genius: an adventure story, a mystery and a profound meditation on childhood, lost innocence and the power of friendship to save our lives—and afterlives. I believe in Neil Smith’s heaven, with all my heart.” 
—Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise

Praise for Bang Crunch:
"The type of clear-eyed prose that makes seasoned authors weep." 
—Ottawa Citizen

"There is so much wit and wisdom packed into these stories, you may be frustrated that there are only 9 of them. Smith has managed to write an almost perfect debut." 
—The Gazette

"Neil Smith never fails to surprise. In a startling, over-the-top clutch of stories reminiscent of the work of Bill Gaston and Charlotte Gill, he has made an impressive mark. Bang Crunch is at times heartbreaking, at times warmly humourous; a crisp commentary on the human need for connection, even in the most unlikely circumstances." 
—The London Free Press

Other titles by Neil Smith