Hopdance Stewart Parker Lilliput Press Book Cover


By: Stewart Parker

Edited by: Marilynn Richtarik

Publication Date: April 2017

(3 customer reviews)


This poignant autobiographical novel by Stewart Parker is the story of an amputee enveloped in its mood of numbed trauma. The writing is masterful, the dialogue witty, full of finesse and immersive description.

In a great Irish tradition of autobiographical fiction that includes James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark, Parker’s poignant novel depicts events surrounding the amputation of his left leg as a nineteen-year-old university student. Masterful vignettes present the callow protagonist’s life before, during and after this ordeal. Belfast, drear locus of rain and despond, contributes to the heaviness at the novel’s heart, as its characters strive to rise above the pervasive melancholy of the city and find some human happiness that they can share.

Tosh, Parker’s alter-ego, is drifting through life before his cancer diagnosis, plagued by the twin ‘cankers’ of a puzzling pain in the leg and a crippling loneliness. The amputation forces him into a more authentic relationship with life, which ‘Starts with the wound. Ends with the kiss. For the lucky ones.’

This remarkable, posthumously edited work, largely written in the early 1970s, prefigures the skills Stewart Parker would demonstrate in his plays: plainspoken and stoical in tone, the emotion seeps through a membrane of numb reserve. The writing is impressionistically vivid, the descriptions of pain and discomfort wholly authoritative. Hopdance is a beautiful, sincere, personal testament by a true artist, a wondrous ‘lost treasure’ of literature now presented to its reading public.


Stewart Parker (1941-1988), Belfast dramatist, was the celebrated author of Spokesong (1974), Catchpenny Twist(1977), Nightshade (1980) and Northern Star (1984). He wrote numerous award-winning plays for radio and television –– a shining light of Northern Irish literature.


Marilynn Richtarik is professor of English at Georgia State University, USA. She is author of a critically acclaimed biography, Stewart Parker, A Life (OUP, 2012).

‘[Marilynn Richtarik] has edited this novel/memoir with the utmost care and brought it into being via a terrific Lilliput Press edition.’ – Culture Northern Ireland



Also available as an ebook

3 reviews for Hopdance

  1. Lilliput Press

    [Marilynn Richtarik] has edited this novel/memoir with the utmost care and brought it into being via a terrific Lilliput Press edition.

    – Culture Northern Ireland

  2. Lilliput Press

    Equally gorgeous craft from writer & editor alike. Makes me proud to have met one in person & be one degree (-20 years) removed from the other. For an unfinished posthumously published book it has a delectable ending – open & shut mastery, my favourite alongside ‘franny & zooey’, which for me says a lotta lot. peace. – Emily

  3. Lilliput Press

    “Stewart Parker’s Hopdance is a deeply moving, funny, yet considered novel, well-honed and a joy to read. Beautifully written, the potentially macabre themes of loss and terror are overlaid with loyal friendships, moments of joy and beauty in nature, and on most pages, intensely funny dark humour. Hopdance is an ‘amuse bouche’ to whet the appetite for more of this little-known 20th century writer.
    More of a series of fables on aspects of the human condition, on a superficial level the story follows a central character, Tosh, diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and the preventive amputation of his left leg above the knee. Another central character is Protestant Belfast in the 1970s, as narrated through the eyes of a young Queen’s student from lower middle class East Belfast.
    This is not a novel that follows convention, nor is it sequential, yet it is crystal clear in its communication, and gripping in its engagement with the reader. A dazzling array of styles and voices weaves around an inner core of restlessness and quest, and Parker stirs dark laughter with a light and unassuming absurdity. The night before the amputation, Tosh studies his left leg: “But the foot clearly wanted to live. It was forlornly expressive like an eager dog staring into the muzzle of its master’s shotgun.”
    Parker, best known as a playwright, completed the first draft of this semi-autobiographical work in 1973 and revisited it at periods throughout his life, including trying to ready it for publication in 1988, shortly before his untimely death from stomach cancer at the age of 47.
    The novel is scrupulously contextualised in both the introduction and the appendices provided by Marilynn Richtarik, editor of this pleasingly presented paperback from The Lilliput Press. A foreward from Lynne Parker, artistic director of Dublin’s Rough Magic Theatre Company and Parker’s niece, helps put the novel into perspective. Hopdance has a fresh, clear voice that deals with universal themes – a good choice for formal or informal book club reading.” ELENA

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Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 136 × 216 mm

Paperback: 176pp

Publication Date

April 2017

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