Sarah Hall, photo credit: Richard Thwaites  


Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

Publication date: October 2021

Sarah Hall
Burntcoat book cover
Publication date: October 2021
Paperback released: 2nd June 2022

The Paperback Launch of Burntcoat is going to be on: 24th June 2022 at 6pm. The Farmers Arms in South Cumbria: |
Details and ticketing to follow.

You were the last one here, before I closed the door of Burntcoat. Before we all shut our doors.

A remarkable novel of passion, connection and transformation from award-winning novelist and short story writer Sarah Hall.

In the bedroom above her immense studio at Burntcoat, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness is making her final preparations. The symptoms are well known: her life will draw to an end in the coming days.

Downstairs, the studio is a crucible glowing with memories and desire. It was here, when the first lockdown came, that she brought Halit. The lover she barely knew. A presence from another culture. A doorway into a new and feverish world.

The story of two new lovers confined, Burntcoat is a sublime and scorching experience, an elegy burning with resistance, which no reader will forget.

The Faber Interview. Sarah Hall speaks to Alex Clark about the inspiration behind her novel, Burntcoat, and the themes of her writing:
BBC Sounds - Open Book. Elizabeth Day talks to Sarah Hall about her latest novel, Burntcoat:

Burntcoat book cover USA Burntcoat
Publication date USA: November 2021

'Hall has crafted a harrowing and memorable vision of decay, collapse and recovery…BURNTCOAT is powerful…Read it tomorrow or a decade from now — either way, it'll convey a palpable sense of what it feels like to be alive in 2021, another grueling year shaped by an epochal crisis.' The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Across the Pond:
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl:

The Wall Street Journal:
Tor review:
New York Times Book Review:

Newspaper Reviews

'The absolute stand-out for me this year has been Burntcoat, the new novel by Sarah Hall. It's a slim, perfectly-formed gem of a book, an extraordinarily visceral take on sex, grief, creativity, disease, death and the strange mania of lockdown. I have no idea how she turned it around so quickly, but Burntcoat is absolutely the artistic response to the world that we need right now.'
Kirstin Innes, The List

'Hall's Burntcoat is a wonder of a novel: a compact, fierce and utterly unforgettable exploration of the resilience of both art and the human spirit in the most trying of contexts.'
Michael Donkor, i news

'Burntcoat by Sarah Hall is in the vanguard of a new genre of pandemic/lockdown fiction: the connections between isolation and creation are laid bare in a disquieting dystopia of the not-quite-now.'
Damon Galgut, Observer

'Sarah Hall's Burntcoat is a bravura exploration of art, love, sex and ego pressed up against the threat of contagion. In Hall's version of the pandemic, a loner sculptor who usually expresses herself through monumental works is forced into high-stakes intimacy with a new lover, while pitting her sense of her own creativity against the power of the virus.'
Justine Jordan, Guardian

'I loved Burntcoat. I started it nervously, as the other Sarah with a lockdown novel out this autumn, but continued with delight and admiration for prose as dark and sleek and burnished as the sculptures in the book. However you feel about pandemic fiction you should read it for the sentences.'
Sarah Moss, TLS

'I really liked Burntcoat by Sarah Hall (Faber & Faber). I think she’s a marvellous writer. She used the scenario of an unnamed plague and the lockdown it sets up to create a psychological mystery. We’re probably going to get a whole new genre of Covid fiction opening up, and Hall is right at the vanguard.'
Damon Galgut, New Statesman

'Burntcoat is a slim and beautiful masterpiece exploring art and relationships in a pandemic. I felt it surging over my head, lingering in my dreams, troubling me even when I wasn’t holding it. Hall has always had my heart when it comes to writing about sex and isolation, but here she surpasses even herself.'
Daisy Johnson, New Statesman

'Burntcoat is a novel that feels more triggered by the pandemic than caused by it: visceral and intuitive, the prose is also non-stop glorious – a hymn to the physical and fragile nature of existence.'
Anne Enright, Irish Times

'Art as a form of a survival; the resilience of the human spirit in the wake of the body’s devastation - these are the questions that animate Hall's slim but staggering book ... Burntcoat feels like a culmination of Hall's work and, in my opinion, it is her finest yet ... It is an exquisite account of sexual intimacy, of maternal love, of our terrifying capacity for survival and our commitment to creating beauty out of the darkness.'
Ruth Gilligan, Irish Independent

'[Edith] is the latest in a line of memorable women who have made their presence felt in Hall's fiction ... Hall has written a novel which is, by turn, erotic, tragic and elegiac ... [and] has the power to move and enthral.'
Malcolm Forbes, The Herald

'A feverish, beautifully observed novel about sickness, love and loss ... deeply unsettling and empathetic ... a book full of wisdom about the crisis of our times.'
Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times

'At once epic and miniature, the story of two lovers cut off from a disintegrating world ... This terrible, ambivalent closeness takes all of Hall's magnificent powers as a novelist to describe. I was left feeling that only she could write it ... The hope in this sparse, sumptuous, brilliant book is that the work of finding meaning and truth can be continued even in extremity, even as art and love slip away.'
Lara Feigel, Guardian

'The prose ... is exquisite and the entire story, even in its despair, is imbued with that which we all crave, in sickness and in health. Love.'
Anne Cunningham, Sunday Independent (Ireland)

'A fierce, lyrical … compelling work.'
Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times

'From award-winning and Booker Prize nominated writer Sarah Hall comes this intense, almost claustrophobic, but compelling story about life, death, love, longing - all the big themes deftly and beautifully explored.'
Sarra Manning, Red Magazine

'Sarah Hall has always written about the unsettling edges of life - eerie landscapes, animalistic desires - so the pandemic was a perfect crucible for Burntcoat, her sixth novel, and one of the books of the year so far.'
Cal Revely-Calder, Daily Telegraph

'The pleasure of Hall’s prose - visceral, intimate - is a balm to our collective wound.'
Mia Levitin, Spectator

'Hall skilfully probes the way that confined existence exacerbates existing wounds to the psyche. Burntcoat is a beguiling tale about our unending struggle to work out how to exist and how to learn to live with loss. Edith is a tremendous protagonist and Hall’s tender, scorching novel will make your heart weep for a woman whose "soul had capsized".'
Martin Chilton, Independent

'Serious literary talent ... It is a rending read, and all the better for that. The characters are so deftly done, in all their ambiguities ... finely wrought, intellectually brave and emotionally honest.'
Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

'Burntcoat is an elemental novel, of earth and fire and water, wood and mud and peat, graphite and charcoal, resins, pine tar and ashes... woven from the English landscape... This is fertile territory for Hall, whose previous work has so brilliantly sung of the north.'
Lauren Elkin, Financial Times

'Beguiling ... Hall writes in exquisite prose about desire and death in the midst of a national crisis.'
Anita Sethi, Vogue

'Sarah Hall's Burntcoat is one of those new books with the unsettling quality of describing or approximating a great moment in history and its aftermath, as the reader is still living through it ... Hall manages to make it compelling, tragic, and still sensitive in its handling of a love story during a time of terrible social upheaval ... It is immensely readable and beautifully told.'
India Lewis, The Arts Desk

'An extraordinary book ... Her writing is subtle, richly textured, requiring time to give it the full attention it needs and to savour its beauty.'
Susan Osborne, A Life in Books

'A precise, unflinching argument for humanity and art. Burntcoat revels in the act of storytelling and will compel many, as they reach the end, to return to the beginning to reread.'
Cumbria Life, Book of the Month

'Hall's new novel, Burntcoat, is written with the electrifying intensity and precision for which she’s acclaimed ... Gothic and elemental, it’s an indelible meditation on bodies, physical contact, decay, art and love.'
Madeleine Feeny, Culture Whisper

'Stunningly good.'
Bookseller, Editor’s Choice October Fiction

Author endorsements

'Sarah Hall’s Burntcoat was astonishing about pandemic times.'
Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual

'Sarah Hall makes language shimmer and burn. She’s not afraid of big themes and has the talent to back up her ambition, but she’s just as good at the intimate and domestic... One of the finest writers at work today.'
Damon Galgut, author of The Promise

'Transporting... I loved it. Burntcoat is a book about so many things - art, sex, care, death - and one of the most powerful portrayals of memory loss I have encountered. A beautiful novel, full of heat and darkness.'
Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar

'Nobody writes like Sarah Hall, and here her lucid, vital, extraordinary style is matched perfectly to its subject – it's an extraordinary work that will stand as a blazing witness to the age that bore it.'
Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent

'A dark and brilliant novel about love, art and fragility in a time of crisis.'
Sarah Moss, author of Summerwater

'Here are new ways to understand what it feels like to be human. Burntcoat is a masterpiece. I lay myself at the altar of everything Hall writes.'
Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters

'Wonderful... Sarah Hall manages to infuse a whole novel with the intensity of one of her stories. The writing has a sense of immediacy - of going down smoking hot onto the page.'
Andrew Miller, author of Pure

'I can think of no other British writer whose talent so consistently thrills, surprises and staggers. Sarah Hall’s work has everything: drama, poetry, tension, sensuality, dark magic and that undefinable otherness that is unique to her. She is the best there is ... With Burntcoat she has solidified her status as the literary shining light we lesser souls aspire to.'
Benjamin Myers, author of The Offing

Event Dates

Tuesday 16 August
10.00, Edinburgh international Book Festival - in person

Introduction & News | Haweswater | The Electric Michelangelo | The Carhullan Army | How to Paint a Dead Man | The Beautiful Indifference | The Wolf Border | Interviews & Profiles
Readings | Teaching | Journalism | Other Publications | Art and Song inspired links | CV | Photographs | Links | Contact Us