The Oversight

Will Eaves

2002 Nominee

Whitbread First Novel Award

08 March 2002
288 pages


In 1983, an ordinary teenager called Daniel Rathbone fell in love, spurned a friend, and stumbled on the ability to see in the dark. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Daniel is bequeathed a second no less unusual gift - a Victorian writing box, the legacy of his father and the repository of his youthful secrets, and of his current feelings of guilt.When a visit from the once-spurned friend, Carey Schumacher, coincides with the death of a contemporary, Daniel's peculiar endowments are enlisted to make lasting sense of lost time and place.

From Bath to Brixton, from the 1960s to the 90s, The Oversight follows a trail of thwarted and victorious affections. It is an intently comic tale of vision and delusion; of family, friendship and desertion; and of the divisively cruel need to belong. A multi-layered debut of distinction.

'Deeply impressive... Eaves simply does not put a foot wrong' Evening Standard

'Remarkable... I was so absorbed in the novel, so admiring of its cleverness and poise... a moving , frequently funny and impressive debut' Sunday Times

'Eaves hasn't created a hero who can leap tall buildings, he's created something rarer still: a vivid portrait of a man getting to grips with adulthood' The Face

'Subtle wondrous...intelligence and taste...gems of dry humour...a varied and accomplished first novel' Scotland on Sunday

‘An insightful exploration of memory, death and parenthood . . . a consistently fine use of language and an acute sensitivity to how the emotional contours of a family flex and are disrupted by events . . . [Eaves] has written that most honest of books: a coming-of-age novel the central perception of which is that one never really does’ Economist
‘Eaves simply does not put a foot wrong. His astonishing debut is clever, funny, dirty and moving. First novels don’t come much better than this’ Evening Standard
‘The novel captures perfectly the cusp of maturity at which self-consciousness becomes self-awareness . . . [Eaves’] warm appraisal of fallibility, motive and mishap make for a promising debut’ Guardian