The Coward Jarred McGinnis

The Coward by Jarred McGinnis

Hardback published by Canongate 1st July 2021

Question: what’s worse than being in a wheelchair?

Answer : Being a fuck-up in a wheelchair.

After a car accident Jarred discovers he’ll never walk again. Confined to a giant roller-skate, he finds himself without neither money nor a job. Worst of all, he’s forced to live back home W the father he hasn’t spoken to in ten years.

Add in a shoplifting habit, a painkiller addiction and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he’s an idiot, it’s a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control?

As he tries to pieces his life back together again, he looks back over his past the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he’s caused himself and others and stars to wonder whether, maybe, things don’t always have to stay broken after all.


I found The Coward that part memoir and part fictional with a mixture being rather tearful and with very funny moments.

Jarred has had a car accident. When he woke up in hospital, he was told that his girlfriend had been killed, but he didn’t correct them.

While Jarred was in hospital for the first week he was set in a state of confusion and on morphine. He was told he would never walk again. Jarred had to wear a brace on his back. The doctors said he would be in hospital for six months.

But after three months a woman from the finance started to make arrangements for Jarred’s discharge. Jarred has to phone his father for help to get out of hospital with his wheelchair.

This is a startling and intimate debut novel which explores disability, masculinity, family and love and estranged father and son struggle to reconcile.

What has been said about The Coward by Jarred McGinnis

The Coward is a raw and unflinching look at broken Father and son relationship. At times viscerally honest but always gripping as the difficult journey to redemption and hope takes place against the backdrop of addiction, recrimination and an emotionally troubled history. Jarred McGinnis finds the truth and humour in the brutal honesty that makes for a compelling read : From Mark Strong.


Jarred McGinnis is the co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in literary journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. He is an Associate Writer for Spread the Word, a fellow of the London Library’s Emerging Writer Programme and a Writer-in-Residence for First Story. He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but mostly he inspires the able-bodied by using public transport and taking his daughters to the playground.

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