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The Brilliant & Forever by Kevin MacNeil

The Brilliant & Forever

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A delightfully unique and quirky novel that is able to provoke a sledgehammer of emotions into action. Three friends are due to take part in the annual Brilliant and Forever literary competition, and this is a competition with a difference. While the focus remains on the three friends, the competition entries are included, consequently we read stories within the story, which encourages thought processes to fly in new directions. ‘The Brilliant and Forever’ isn't a book to gobble down in one sitting, I sometimes re-read sentences just to let them soak into my soul. The writing is different, at times quite beautiful, while at others I sat and scratched my head as I puzzled and allowed thoughts to float just out of reach. Kevin MacNeil has created a striking, often amusing, sometimes menacing, and provocative tale. As soon as I had finished, I re-opened the book at random, sat back down and started to read again. ~ Liz Robinson

March 2016 Book of the Month.

Click here to listen to a podcast about this book with Kevin MacNeil

A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher...

'A new novel by Kevin MacNeil is always something to get excited about, and I mean that as a reader as well as a publisher. When that novel is as marvellously invigorating as The Brilliant & Forever, well, let’s pop those champagne corks! Both a sharp satire on the culture industry and a true celebration of storytelling, it’s a book lover’s dream of a novel. It tells the story of three friends—two human, one alpaca—as they prepare to take part in their home island’s literary festival where either glory or infamy awaits. It’s funny (there’s lots of quotable lines.) It’s moving (you root for so many of the wonderful characters.) It’s hugely imaginative (Haiku-kery! Talking alpacas!) Oh, it’s unique. You’ve really never read a novel like it…' ~ Vikki Reilly, Birlinn Ltd

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Linda Rollins - 'Men, women, children, alpacas - all live together on an island of writers. Funny, thought provoking, crazy and playful. The Brilliant & Forever is clever and intelligent and deserves to win prizes.'
  • Emily Curnow - 'a novel of comedy, human emotion, alpaca emotion and the unexpected. I laughed my way through this unusual book.'
  • Sally Doel - 'It is strange and bizarre and funny and sad and deep.  I really didn't know what to make of it at first, but decided to persevere - I'm so very glad I did...I would recommend this - don't be put off by the 'strangeness' of it - it's great!'
  • Helen Clark - 'I was hooked from page one.  This book has it all – rivalry, friendship, violence, empathy, bigotry and a huge helping of laugh-out-loud humour. Different and highly addictive read.'
  • Judith Griffith - 'An original, quirky story about 3 friends (2 people and an alpaca) and a literary festival like no other. But not for me, I'm afraid.'


The Brilliant & Forever by Kevin MacNeil

On an island like no other, populated by writers, the annual Brilliant & Forever Festival is a much anticipated event; its participants a story away from either glory or infamy. This year, three best friends - two human, one alpaca - are chosen to compete, so victory is not only about reward. This is a novel like no other; a wonderful, provocative tussle, a whip-cracking, energetic, laugh-out-loud satire on what we value in culture, and in our lives. And yet, written with exquisite warmth and empathy, it's also a moving exploration of integrity, friendship and belonging. It'll split your sides and break your heart.


'It is a joy to read such an engaging, luminous novel' * The Guardian * 'Lyrical, satirical, funny and utterly, utterly heartbreaking' * Heat Magazine * 'Full of wry detail and satirical flourish, a demonstration of virtuoso storytelling. MacNeil atomises the process of othering by which communities define themselves. All of that makes it sound overly serious, which it isn't: MacNeil's prose style keeps things light, lyrical, and funny' * The Skinny * 'Reading The Brilliant & Forever, I felt I was in possession of something really special, far bigger than the sum of its words... It is truly original & memorable, heartbreaking & funny, a bit like life itself...'
Vivian Bannerman, Main Street Trading Company

'MacNeil shows himself hugely adept at creating a series of distinctive literary voices, and skilfully weaves these various set-pieces into the main narrative before finally poleaxing the reader with a completely unexpected tragicomic final act . . . a wise warm-hearted meditation on the human condition' * Scotsman * 'Ultimately, this is a book about how everyone has a story worth telling, and one worth hearing too. Terrific stuff' * Independent *'

About the Author

Kevin MacNeil

Kevin MacNeil is an award-winning writer from the Outer Hebrides now living in London. He is a novelist, poet, editor and screenwriter. The Brilliant & Forever is his third novel.

Author photo © Charlie Clift

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd March 2016


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Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited an imprint of Birlinn General


256 pages


Relationship Stories
Books of the Month
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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