The BookWalker's Top Pick titles includes works of bestselling authors and emerging writers. Titles were selected and voted by our staff. Please note: the selection process is heavily biased but fairly influenced by personal preference and the editor's opinions.
" Meticulously crafted and searingly honest, Beard's narrative is at once a story about the long and difficult road to self-forgiveness and a commentary on the wages of British emotional repression. A quietly brooding and intense memoir of family and reckoning with the past." ― Kirkus Reviews
"Spellbinding, terrifying, deeply moving, Richard Beard's The Day That Went Missing is a masterpiece" (Joanna Rakoff), an unflinching portrait of a family's silent grief, and the tragic death of his brother not spoken about for forty years."
This is the story
On a family summer holiday in Cornwall in 1978, Richard and his younger brother Nicholas are jumping in the waves. Suddenly, Nicholas is out of his depth. One moment he's there, the next he's gone.
Richard and his other brothers don't attend the funeral, and incredibly the family returns immediately to the same cottage—to complete the holiday, to carry on, in the best British tradition. They soon stop speaking of the catastrophe. Their epic act of collective denial writes Nicky out of the family memory.
Nearly forty years later, Richard, an acclaimed novelist, is haunted by the missing piece of his childhood, the unexpressed and unacknowledged grief at his core. He doesn't even know the date of his brother's death or the name of the beach where the tragedy occurred. So he sets out on a pain-staking investigation to rebuild Nicky's life, and ultimately to recreate the precise events on the day of the accident.
The Day That Went Missing is a transcendent story of guilt and forgiveness, of reckoning with unspeakable loss. But, above all, it is a brother's most tender act of remembrance, and a man's brave act of survival.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" This is a fascinating book, the story of a child's accidental death and how an English family dealt with it - or rather, didn't deal with it. Clear-eyed, very sad, funny at times and, despite the story it tells, ultimately uplifting in its determination to confront buried truths."
―Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong and Where My Heart Used to Beat
" Spellbinding, terrifying, deeply moving, Richard Beard's The Day That Went Missing is a masterpiece. Fueled by Beard's dark humor and lacerating intelligence, this ferociously original memoir examines the ways in which we create mythologies to help us cope with unbearable tragedy. I basically stopped breathing on page one and didn't start again until I'd reached the book's devastating conclusion."
―Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“ Richard Beard writes with the urgency and simplicity that attend a profound relationship with grief, and in his struggle to understand his brother's death he uses prose that rivets our attention, even as he both savors and examines a wound he knows he will carry with him until the end of time."
―Kate Mulgrew, actor and author of Born with Teeth
"A touching, painful disquisition on memory and forgetting and the tendrils that tie us to the past."
“ When I finished THE DAY THAT WENT MISSING, I though for a long time. I thought about the author doing what she does best in a literary memoir and that is excavating. The author does that here in slow painstaking steps. He exhausts every piece of the story of his brother's death and follows it to the end, even when that end might not give him all the answers he wants. It is all so difficult for him. There's his approach and pulling back from THE spot where his brother drowned and then finally a full-on confrontation, not quite leading to an exoneration, but an acceptance. ”
―KM, Amazon Client
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Richard Beard's six novels include Lazarus is Dead, Dry Bones and Damascus, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In the UK he has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award and longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. His latest novel, Acts of the Assassins was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2015. He is also the author of four books of narrative non-fiction. Formerly Director of The National Academy of Writing in London, he is a Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo, and has a Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.