"The perfect book for our present moment."—The Daily Beast
"O'Connor writes with vivid descriptive detail and acute psychological insight, as well as flashes of searing, wry humor and occasional moments that simply break your heart." —The Boston Globe
"[A] beautiful literary thriller, as political and philosophical as Graham Greene's strongest work." —The Los Angeles Review of Books
"[O'Connor] compels the reader to inhabit his characters' lives. Half World is a stunningly grim and emotionally harrowing read and an astute and evocative portrayal of government paranoia during the Cold War and Vietnam War eras.”—Booklist (starred review)
"An invigorating historical thriller…O'Connor writes with fire." —Kirkus Reviews
"Fascinating…O'Connor is a gifted stylist, and he vividly captures the rabbit hole that swallows agents, their families, and their victims alike." —Library Journal
From its official sanction in 1953 to its shutdown in 1973, the CIA clandestinely conducted methods of mind control on unwitting American and Canadian citizens. This covert and illegal operation, Project MKUltra, eventually made national headlines upon the declassification of thousands of documents in 2001.
Inspired by these events, Scott O’Connor’s Half World is the story of Henry March, a fraying CIA analyst who conducts secret mind-control experiments in San Francisco. With each passing day, Henry’s existence becomes a nightmare, his identity withering as he works over the hapless men lured into his facility.
Struggling between his duty to his country and his responsibility to his wife and children, Henry finally reaches a breaking point, leaving both his project and mind fractured. Amid the wreckage, he becomes the deepest ULTRA mystery.
Two decades later, Dickie Ashby, a young, drug-addled CIA agent, is sent to Los Angeles to infiltrate a group of bank-robbing radicals who claim to have been abused in a government brainwashing operation years earlier. The members of the group know they need to find Henry March and Dickie suddenly finds himself dragged into the stunning legacy of the experiments, tragedy that has destroyed the March family, and which threatens to engulf a war-torn country ready to combust.
Visit the Half World Tumblr: Who is Henry March?
"O'Connor speaks softly and somehow manages to make something beautiful of unspeakable matters...in a voice so insistently stirring, you want to lean in close to catch every word"–The New York Times Book Review
"Astonishing...Introducing an amazing new talent to the world of fiction."–Library Journal (Starred Review)
It is the autumn of 1999. A year has passed since Lucy Darby’s sudden and unexpected death, leaving her husband David and son Whitley to mend the gaping hole in their lives. David, a trauma-site cleanup technician, spends his nights expunging the violent remains of strangers, helping their families to move on, though he is unable to do the same. Whitley – an 11 year-old social pariah known simply as The Kid – hasn’t spoken since his mother’s death. Instead, he communicates through a growing collection of notebooks, living in a safer world of his own silent imagining.
As the impending arrival of Y2K casts a shadow of uncertainty around them, their own precarious reality begins to implode. Questions pertaining to the events of Lucy’s death begin to haunt David, while The Kid, who still believes his mother is alive, enlists the help of his small group of misfit friends to bring her back. As David continues to lose his grip on reality and The Kid’s sense of urgency grows, they begin to uncover truths that will force them to confront their deepest fears about each other and the wounded family they are trying desperately to save.
"O'Connor is one to watch." -- Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Funny and harrowing...A vigilant search for belonging." -- Natalie Nichols, Los Angeles CityBeat
"Mesmerizes...O'Connor knows how to spin a tale." -- Judy Moffett, Small Spiral Notebook
Midway through his summer vacation, eight year-old Huddie Blaylock realizes the reason for his recent, nagging paranoia: his normal, if slightly dysfunctional family has been replaced by imposters. Possessing the inflexible determination of the young and/or mentally ill, he embarks on a decade-long, cross-country search for the truth that will carry him through second-rate amusement parks, nightmarish nursing homes, 24-hour adult novelty shops and the wilds of Midwestern suburbia.