Tigerman (or: Untitled Nick Harkaway Novel ’14)

20 September 2013


I am apparently allowed to start tantalising you about my next novel. I don’t have publication dates or anything yet, though I can say with confidence that you won’t get it until next year, and that is something to do with the seasons of publishing which I do not understand. That said, I do have a synopsis thingy, which I will share with you on the understanding that:

1. It’s a first effort which I did at speed for the London Book Fair earlier this year, so it’s a little clunky.

2. It’s a selling document, so it’s a bit “In a world…!!!” Although I have edited it to remove the bit which says I’m a genius little short of beatification and that I can make strong men weep, women sigh, cats bark and cows sing like angels using only my delicious prose. Because I take it that you know all that already and it’s therefore redundant to bring it up. Also because: hello? British.

3. There is an issue regarding the title with which you may already be familiar [1, 2]. Let us say for the moment that the working title is “Tigerman” and you can tell me if you think that sucks.

Enough procrastinating. Here you go. (The image is actually a place in Puglia – Locorotondo – which I pillaged for one location in the book.)


Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He’s spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he’s nearly forty and burned out and about to be retired.


The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It’s a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution – a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.


But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comicbook fixation who will need a home when the island dies – who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, as Mancreu’s small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer.


In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he’s a soldier with a knack for bad places: “almost anything” could be a very great deal – even becoming some sort of hero. But this is Mancreu, and everything here is upside down. Just exactly what sort of hero will the boy need?

[EDIT: We’ve now settled on Tigerman as the title, I think – the objections of some of you not having been ignored but outweighed – so unless some appalling titular catastrophe occurs… that’s the book!]


17 Comments to “Tigerman (or: Untitled Nick Harkaway Novel ’14)”

  • Jeanne said on September 20th, 2013:

    I think maybe Tigerman is the title you had to have in mind to write it. That’s sometimes different than the title a book needs to entice the kinds of readers it deserves.

    Let me be the fiftieth (?) to point out that you had elephants in the last one, and nobody wants this new one to get tangled up with Life of Pi comparisons, however superficial.

  • The title sucks. Certainly compared to the better one. Which “They” allegedly won’t let you use. But you knew that.

    Decided not even to read the synopsis. Would be happier to read the full thing. So have little right to be posting.

    But hey.


  • Zach V said on September 20th, 2013:

    I read that in the “In a world” voice, hopefully to myself. Sounds great though. Very excited for the release. Is the “Tigerman” title related to the kids’ comic book interest or are you mutating humans in this book?

  • Nick Harkaway said on September 21st, 2013:

    No, it’s not related, which is another reason I need a different title…

  • Jordan said on September 20th, 2013:

    <3 <3 <3 !!!
    So excited! :-)
    Having just had my first child I'll be really interested to see how you describe the terrific intensity of parental love.

  • Gina 123 Fischer said on September 20th, 2013:

    ICAN’TWAITICAN’TWAITICAN’TWAITICAN’TWAIT!! Wow, that turns into a pretty strange word. ‘Twait’ should be a word, if it isn’t already.
    I love ‘Tigerman’, because it doesn’t sound like everyone else’s damn book, ie: ‘The Sword of Voltaren’ or whatever.
    Voltaren is an anti-inflammatory gel that I put on my knees when they hurt-I highly recommend it.

  • Michael said on September 20th, 2013:

    Hm, so-so about the title. Reminded me of “Tiger! Tiger!”, but that’s probably just me. Anyway, what attracts me to a book is not a title, but the name of the author, so maybe I should leave any judging to those who had not decided to buy the book the second they heard about it.

  • Dave Hutchinson said on September 20th, 2013:

    I like the title. kthxbai.

  • Kate said on September 20th, 2013:

    You had me at Lester Ferris. And lurking. *Sits back and patiently waits for sodding seasonal publishing whatsits*

  • brian said on September 20th, 2013:

    i try not to put too much stock in titles, because they can be misleading. I like the title even though i’m unsure of what it means. However, the gone away world and angelmaker didn’t necessarily clue me in too much to the content of the books and I loved both. so, keep up the good work.

  • Tim Vandergrift said on September 24th, 2013:

    Love it: a very seedy vibe, reminding me of the Maltese Falcon caper. Heroes, ambivalent morality, loose space for the strange and offside to exist and the possibility of redemption . . . can’t wait, Mr. Harkaway.

  • Robin said on October 8th, 2013:

    I think I agree with Brian. The title makes very little difference to me (though I am sure the marketing guys think it more important that the plot!) It is probably more important in Fantasy or YA but in mainstream, or even SF, I don’t believe it matters.

  • Kim Crady-Smith said on October 8th, 2013:

    Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah! I can’t wait etiher….that said not so keen on the title; and while I think I am already in love with Lester Ferris, I am hoping he is not just another run of the mill ex-solider good guy fighting bad guy…really a new title is necessary.

  • Nick Harkaway said on October 14th, 2013:

    @Kim – don’t worry. He’s very much not the guy who gets played by Henry Cavill in a few years – he’s more this guy. (I actually have a couple of pastels of boxers by Howson at home – people get all excited over his oils, but for my money the pastels are more fun. Also for my money: they’re MUCH cheaper. Anyway, I think Lester began with them.)

  • Jared said on October 14th, 2013:


    *Elevating the tone of the conversation.

  • Ian Paternoster said on November 9th, 2013:

    Really looking forward to this.

  • college workout plan said on May 28th, 2014:

    Ridiculous story there. What happened after? Good luck!

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