A feared cage fighter in Mixed Martial Arts, Daniel is closing in on greatness—until an injury derails his career. Out of work in his country hometown, Daniel slips into the underworld, moonlighting as muscle for a childhood-friend-turned-mid-level-gangster. While his wife works nights and his twelve-year-old daughter gets into scraps of her own, Daniel tries to escape and build a nobler life for his family—but he sinks deeper into a violent, unpredictable world, soon sparking a conflict that can only be settled in blood.
Written with equal parts tenderness and horror, In the Cage weaves together a grittily masterful tale of violence, family, and resilience as Kevin Hardcastle penetrates what it means to survive in the rural underclass.
Kevin Hardcastle’s stories have appeared in Shenandoah, The Walrus, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, EVENT, PRISM International, and Joyland. His work has been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories, and twice in The Journey Prize Stories. His debut collection of short stories Debris (Biblioasis, 2015) won the 2016 Trillium Book Award. Hardcastle lives in Toronto.
ONE OF CBC BOOKS' "17 WRITERS TO WATCH IN 2017"
PRAISE FOR IN THE CAGE
“The architecture of this first novel is faultlessly conceived; the construction of the storytelling is meticulously crafted. Hardcastle has an abiding sympathy for the neglected rural poor. The characters we love will break our hearts; the low-lifes we fear are no less indelibly rendered. There is an aura of foreboding—of tragic inevitability—to the collision course of their lives. And, speaking strictly as a former wrestler, the details are true.”—John Irving, The Cider House Rules
“Hardcastle is one of Canada's emerging literary fiction stars.”—CBC Books
“Written in taut, tough as nails prose, with a cinematic quality comparable to McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, Hardcastle’s In The Cage, is, to say the least, a wild, unrelenting ride, filled with thugs and desperation and innocents and heartbreak. A damn fine book.”—Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff
“A potent and gripping novel that rigorously steers through rural poverty and mixed martial arts ... [the characters’] depth and richness flourish throughout Hardcastle’s captivating narrative.”—Waubgeshig Rice, author of Legacy
“Hardcastle's signature style [is] a kind of rural poetry ... closer in spirit to McCarthy than Hemingway.”—Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire
“Hardcastle’s descriptions possess an elegant choreography that is vivid, energetic, and well-paced ... In The Cage—like its protagonist, Daniel—is well structured, engaging, and hard to dislike.”—Shawn Syms, Foreword Reviews
“A masterful mashup between genres, matching the masculine violence of the cage match with country-tinged, Mamet-esque dialogue that elevates these characters into rich portraits of desperate people living for sheer survival. A crime novel with the pulse of a sports drama and the bitter toxicity of the best country noir.”—Kirkus Reviews
“There is focus and energy in Daniel's quiet rage ... rather than employ a commonplace, Tarantinoesque approach juxtaposing the violence with humour or camp, Hardcastle provides no adornments. His economical writing resembles dispatches from a war zone ...”—Stephen Knight, Quill & Quire
PRAISE FOR KEVIN HARDCASTLE
“There is a sure-handed display of craftsmanship in these eleven stories ... Everyone gets hurt, but everything makes sense, and the storytelling is so good—the language, a soothing balm for the pain.”—John Irving, The Cider House Rules
“[Debris] has its own strong voice ... smoothly connected by uncompromising settings and Hardcastle’s authentic, plainspoken country-noir voice, the 11 stories collected here will appeal to fans of gritty, back-country crime fiction, even those who typically shun short stories.”—Booklist