SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 MILES FRANKLIN LITERARY AWARD
Pain was Joe Grim’s self-expression, his livelihood and reason for being.
A superstar boxer who rarely won a fight, Grim distinguished himself for his extraordinary ability to withstand physical punishment.
In this wild and expansive novel, Michael Winkler moves between the present day and Grim’s 1908–09 tour of Australia, bending genres and histories into a kaleidoscopic investigation of pain, masculinity, and narrative.
Pain is often said to defy the limits of language. And yet Grimmish suggests that pain – physical and mental – is also the most familiar and universal human condition; and, perhaps, the secret source of our impulse to tell stories.
“The strangest book you are likely to read this year.” – JM Coetzee
"Grimmish meets a need I didn't even know I had. I lurched between bursts of wild laughter, shudders of horror, and gasps of awe at Winkler’s verbal command: the freshness and muscle of his verbs, the unstoppable flow of his images, the bizarre wit of the language of pugilism – and all the while, a moving subterranean glint of strange masculine tenderness." – Helen Garner
"A powerful blast of literary ingenuity and originality." – Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip
“All the makings of a cult classic. It’s grotesque and gorgeous, smart and searching.” – Beejay Silcox, The Guardian
"[I]t was fun spending time with [Winkler], an Aussie version of Geoff Dyer, as he sparred with the shade of one of boxing’s most unusual characters." – Robbie Millen, The Times
"A fantastic tale based on the life of early-20th-century boxer Joe Grim throws a flurry of wild punches." – Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"Grimmish provides a model for how a writer might confront the difficult challenge of writing about, and celebrating, masculine energies and impulses: acknowledge the challenge, absorb the blows. Chin down, fists up." – Ian Sansom, Times Literary Supplement
“Grimmish is probably the most unusual Australian book I will read in 2021, and, without a doubt, one of the best.” – Emmett Stinson, Overland
“Intriguing…Winkler crafts a compelling impressionistic portrait.” – Thomas Hauser, The Sweet Science
“Probably the Australian novel of the decade.” – Ben Lindner, Beyond the Zero Podcast
"One of those rare narratives that delights and repulses and hums with such madness and integrity that we wish, at its conclusion, only to return to our desks and to forget all the writing rules we were taught at school" – Oliver Mol, Sydney Review of Books
"A literary provocation" – Daniel Green
“Blazing its own trail of experimental weirdo mindfuckery…the most daring book of (the year).” – Bram Presser
"...recalls W.G. Sebalds's melding of fiction with his personal history, as well as the more exuberant postmodern playfulness of David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon" – Reuben Mackey, Meanjin
"Playful, visceral and elegant. Sat down to read it, lost an afternoon.” – Robbie Arnott
“A novel that takes chances, that animates a hazily documented life and bleeds it into a strange music called fiction. It’s Stein, Gass, McCarthy, and Pynchon rolled into one exquisite cannoli.” – Gerg Gerke
“Michael Winkler’s Grimmish is the best literary clinch you’ll ever read.” – Alex Cothren, Australian Book Review
“Grimmish will likely be the most interesting Australian book published this year.” – Ben Walter
“Cleverly experimental, this is one out of the box.” – Steven Carroll, The Sunday Morning Tribune
"At times, the effect of this wonderful little book is not unlike being punched in the face by one of the boxers its story chronicles -- a reading experience that can leave you dizzy, disoriented, and constantly in delighted anticipated of what may come next. An 'exploded non-fiction' novel that takes as its starting point a historical figure, but around that persona entwines a fantastical, strange, and at times borderline-hilarious tale of pain, masculinity, and the occasional talking goat. This book kept me on my toes throughout." – Bryan Seitz, Literati Bookstore