“This debut novel about an Irish expat millennial teaching English and finding romance in Hong Kong is half Sally Rooney love triangle, half glitzy Crazy Rich Asians high living—and guaranteed to please.”—Vogue
A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM: The New York Times Book Review * Vogue * TIME * Marie Claire * Elle * O, the Oprah Magazine * The Washington Post * Esquire * Harper's Bazaar * Bustle * PopSugar * Refinery 29 * LitHub * Debutiful
An intimate, bracingly intelligent debut novel about a millennial Irish expat who becomes entangled in a love triangle with a male banker and a female lawyer
Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children.
Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than "I like you a great deal."
Enter Edith. A Hong Kong–born lawyer, striking and ambitious, Edith takes Ava to the theater and leaves her tulips in the hallway. Ava wants to be her—and wants her.
And then Julian writes to tell Ava he is coming back to Hong Kong... Should Ava return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian or take a leap into the unknown with Edith?
Politically alert, heartbreakingly raw, and dryly funny, Exciting Times is thrillingly attuned to the great freedoms and greater uncertainties of modern love. In stylish, uncluttered prose, Naoise Dolan dissects the personal and financial transactions that make up a life—and announces herself as a singular new voice.
About the Author
Naoise Dolan is an Irish writer born in Dublin. She studied at Trinity College, followed by a master’s in Victorian literature at Oxford. She writes fiction, essays, criticism and features for publications including The London Review of Books, The Guardian and Vogue. Her debut novel Exciting Times was published by W&N in the UK and by Ecco in the US in 2020, and became a Sunday Times bestseller, widely translated and optioned for TV. She has been shortlisted and longlisted for several prizes, including The Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.
"Jealousy and obsession, love and late capitalism, sex and the internet all come whirling together in a wry and bracing tale of class and privilege.” — New York Times Book Review
"Half Sally Rooney love triangle, half glitzy Crazy Rich Asians high living—and guaranteed to please."
"Edna O’Brien. Tana French. Sally Rooney. Enter fellow Irishwoman Dolan, whose knowing, superbly observed debut novel marks the young author as a major force. This sardonic rom-com chronicles the escapades of 22-year-old Ava, a desultory millennial teaching abroad inHong Kong, where she meets Julian, an aloof British banker, and Edith, a wealthy Chinese lawyer. What ensues is an enchantingly neurotic love triangle in a time of economic and existential tumult." — O, the Oprah Magazine
“In fewer than 250 pages, [Dolan] has captured the touchstone millennial tension between sardonicism and sincerity — the electric ambivalence of figuring out how to be a person in these times. . . . Dolan has buttoned-up elocution, taut phrasing and sharp angles. . . . Exciting Times is a funny novel (both haha and weird), resisting the pull of melodrama in favor of a sharp point of view and an intense concern with language. . . . [and] is indeed engaged with the ways class, inequality and politics manifest in social life.” — Los Angeles Times
“That dive into human consciousness . . . separates Dolan from the countrywoman to whom she is often compared, novelist Sally Rooney (“Normal People”). While both writers deal with class — offering cutting observations — Dolan pushes further to confront why we put up with it in the first place.” — Washington Post
"Dolan crafts sharp commentary on the intersection of longing, class and power." — Time
"Wry, stylish.... In this witty satire of the haves and have nots, Dolan explores tender, insightful truths about the vagaries of modern love."
“Wonderfully intuitive and fluid…. An examination of sex, queerness, self-sabotage, power, and privilege." — The New Yorker
"A love triangle like you've never seen it before.... Wry and sardonic, Dolan relentlessly examines untold truths about love, classicism, and ambition." — Marie Claire
“A love story packed with irony and introspection.” — Elle
“Incisive and funny…. [Dolan’s] bold, sardonic narrative voice is original and, at times, irresistible…. This is a sharp-eyed novel that tackles serious ideas.… Dolan’s novel — wry and jaded, yet sometimes hopeful — understands this volatile era.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The prevailing experience of [Dolan’s] endeavor is one of invigoration. “Exciting Times” is a work of phenomenal acuity and vehemence that, in the freshness of its apprehensions and the authority of its voice, is edifying, funny, tender, plangent and rich with the sensibility of an individual who, condemned to conditions that are not of her making, finds the space that she needs to take flight, and who proceeds as the person she was.” — Seattle Times
“Droll, shrewd and unafraid—a winning debut.” — Hilary Mantel
"A brisk, bracing read.... Wry and witty, Dolan pokes and prods at all those things that everyone can't help but obsess over: sex and money and, you know, sex and money."
— Refinery 29
“Hands down one of the most anticipated debuts of the year ... A piercingly provocative look at modern love and power games.” — Book Riot
“Dolan has an ear for the mixture of insinuation, implication, silent scolding, deep concern and unbending love in the mother’s Irish voice. It’s flawless. As is Ava’s way of listening to Julian, her upper-class English boyfriend. Dolan analyzes how the English language and the Irish ear try to make sense of each other.” — Colm Tóibín, WSJ Magazine
"Expert prose.... Speaks from a specific stature of intellect and awareness, with an ambivalence towards engaging in the capitalist economy, while simultaneously longing to be of, and a part of, the world." — Literary Hub
“Volleying dialogue, rich interiority, and perceptive writing on money, politics, and class. . . A clever and deep novel of sex, connection, and the complexities of self expression.” — Booklist (starred review)
"Dolan’s preoccupation with power is often couched in humor but always expertly observed. Her elegantly simple writing allows her ideas and musings to shine. A refreshingly wry and insightful debut." — Kirkus Reviews
"[A] wry, tender debut.... Dolan’s smart, brisk debut works as a charming comedy of manners." — Publishers Weekly
“Fiercely intelligent, brutally funny and written with such heart, Exciting Times announces an impressive new voice in literature.” — Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall
“[Exciting Times] teems with insight around class, race, language and sexuality. Likely to fill the Sally-Rooney-shaped hole in many readers' lives.” — Irish Times
"A funny, smart, contemporary love story." — Sunday Times (London)
"Exciting Times is constant fun." — Telegraph (UK)
"Whipsmart… A modern love story… Exciting Times is an impressive, cerebral debut written with brio and humour… The observations are keen, heartfelt and delivered in a brutally nonchalant style… Heralding for sure a new star in Irish writing." — Irish Times
"Dazzling… With Exciting Times comes a rare and indeed exciting talent, a cacophony of our times, a treat for the socially distanced." — Irish Independent
"Very funny… Extremely sharp – both cutting and tart… A bracing, refreshing first novel." — Observer
"I wouldn’t be surprised if it emerges as the book of the summer … A rich, sharply witty story made out of the frictions and complexities of young love … Kept me rapt until the final page." — The Times (UK)
"A wonderfully sharp, comic writer, adept at making wisecracks in the caustic, knock-em-off, knock-em-down tradition of Dorothy Parker, Joan Rivers and Nora Ephron … [Ava] is Bridget Jones’s sour sister, or Bridget Jones marinaded in vinegar … I found myself purring with pleasure. I loved Exciting Times’s snap and its bite … This is comic writing at the highest level." — Daily Mail (UK)
"Meet the new Sally Rooney... That might sound like hyperbole but this tale brings fresh and on-point insights into modern love that’ll make it a hit with lovers of Normal People." — Stylist (UK)
"A dazzling debut … Dolan’s writing is precise, acerbic and enviably good, and her characters are perfectly drawn." — Evening Standard (London)
"A fresh and funny debut about love and self-knowledge … affecting and powerful." — The Guardian
"What sets Dolan apart is her humour. EXCITING TIMES is riddled with snappy one liners and witty interplay. A fantastic first novel." — Metro