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Boxy an Star

My first novel for adults, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and longlisted for the Booker Prize. Translated into German, Russian and Italian. The Italian publisher renamed the novel Pasticche D’Amore, which means ‘Love Pills’. Currently being made into a feature film.

Written after a university friend was institutionalised due to taking drugs like MDMA, Boxy an Star was intended as a warning about the dangers of the 1990s party drug culture. However, despite focusing on the negative effects of psychoactive drugs, the novel was taken by many as a celebration of youthful hedonism, perhaps due to the trendy drug-lit artwork. I very much dislike my early adult fiction now, I was trying too hard to be controversial so the content is somewhat cynical, but of course I am proud of the impact the novel had creatively.

You may prefer to read the prequel, Tom Boler, first.

I love the artwork on the German and Italian editions. Nice work, Europeans!
Boxy an Star is a total success: finely paced, wildly funny, deeply touching. I relished the lovely Joyce-meets-Estuary coinages. Subtler, and harder, is the inch-perfect comic timing that makes many scenes sound like some delirious encounter between PG Wodehouse and William S Burroughs.
 
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent


King takes up themes developed in other chemical generation novels, such as Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy. Emotions are heightened, passion is more immediate, and the comedown is more destructive. Boxy an Star is the most successful of these novels because it is entirely prelapsarian, at least for the lovers Bole and Star. They are too young and too stoned to appreciate the dangers – that is left to the reader. And reading this novel is like skateboarding around an abyss; at any moment, the ground is going to disappear.
 
Nicholas Blincoe, The Guardian


Bole’s breathtaking naïvety is a source both of humour and of quite striking observations of the Martian-sends-a-postcard-home kind, while his inarticulate pain achieves a shocking simplicity verging on the poetic. This is an extraordinary debut.
 
Christina Patterson, The Observer


Daren King’s debut, Boxy an Star, was far and away the best of the novels about the ecstasy generation which proliferated in the 1990s.
 
Laurence Phelan, The Independent


I mentioned a couple of days ago that Magnus Mills is the most interesting writer in Britain today. Well, Daren King is the most talented. And original. No... Mills and King tie for originality, but King has it with the pure talent. He’s like a Jackson Pollock paintbrush, spattering colours all over the page and somehow creating something grounded and accessible.
 
Charlie Williams, novelist
From left to right:
~Abacus 1999 UK paperback
~Abacus 2000 UK paperback
~Rogner & Bernhard 2001 Germany hardback
~Newton & Compton Editori 2006 Italy paperback
~AST 2009 Russia hardback
b&w photo © Rankin