In Search of the Missing Eyelash

Karen McLeod


‘A marvellous debut: quirky, honest, funny and sad. I loved it.’ Sarah Waters

Lizzie is lonely. Her father is gone, her mother has disappeared and her little brother, Simon, went missing a month ago and has been spotted in the local swimming baths wearing a woman’s one-piece bathing suit with padding in ‘two certain areas’. It was ok when she had Sally as her girlfriend, but Sally has gone off with a fat-necked man with googly eyes and shows no signs of missing her ex-lover, or wanting her back. If only she could stop stalking her… At least nothing has changed at Ruby’s cafe, where she works as a waitress, serving shepherd’s pie and cups of sugary tea to the dotty old regulars.

IN SEARCH OF THE MISSING EYELASH is a novel about family and love and loss, about what happens to your head when everything shifts, about the dreadful aching fear of being alone and the lengths people go to prevent it. It’s a novel about sex and gender; of secrets and disguises; of heartbreak and sadness and loneliness; of perception and truth and lies. It’s an astonishing read, hilarious and heartbreaking in a breath. And it established Karen McLeod as one of the most exciting and ambitious new voices around.

‘Lizzie misses Sally – her former lover – who has gone off with a man with a fat neck. A novel that is brilliantly funny and sad, and captures the slow unravelling of a life.’ Evie Wyld, Essential Summer Reads The Observer

‘Tremendous. Such a mix of hilarious and poetic and delicate and tough, it feels like a twenty-first century version of Nell Dunn, a kind of writing that lets you see the state of things. Its kindness is I think one of the most buoyant things about it – it pulls love and gentleness out of nowhere – and makes other shapes of things, different shapes for things, unexpected shapes of things, stimulating and important and generous, which is pretty cunning, and very satisfying. Wonderful.’ Ali Smith

‘A brilliant mix of the poetic and the comic, a quirky novel that also explores how we can become undone through love.’ Jackie Kay, Guardian Books of the Year

‘It’s a sparkling novel – short and deftly written, so good on the minor details that make up our lives. It’s a deeply serious book about longing and loneliness and identity, but also so sweetly funny throughout and everything about it rings beautiful and true.’ Peter Hobbs, author of THE SHORT DAY DYING

‘From the opening line, Karen McLeod’s stunningly original debut grabs the reader in an armlock and never lets go. McLeod has an uncanny eye for those nights of drunken revelry or bleary hungover moments of regret the morning after. She moves from drunken debauchery to moments of tenderness to the pangs of love and grief in just a few pages. Her tone is confident and her eye for the obscure in the stuff of the everyday lends the book a truly original tone.’ Attitude

‘Startlingly original and fresh.  A hilarious and heartbreaking story of loneliness, disappointment (and stalking), it’s crisply and cleanly written, yet undeniably powerful.  Deftly manages the reader’s emotions and anticipations.’ Gay Times

‘Unexpectedly life-affirming… will speak to big-hearted romantics of whatever persuasion.’ Patrick Gale, Independent

‘Both comic and moving as it explores ideas of self, of gender, identification and loneliness.’ Observer

‘Sensitive, ferocious and very funny.’ Helen Oyeyemi, New Statesman

Loneliness, love and loss seep from this bittersweet debut novel.’ Financial Times

‘McLeod’s writing has a generosity of spirit that celebrates difference and turns the story of one person’s small sorrows into a wonderfully moving tale of loss, loneliness and love.’ Metro ‘Book of the Week’

‘A dazzling debut… the pages turn in a flurry and the jokes and fleeting arrows hit their targets.’ The Scotsman​

‘This is a book fairly bursting with character… full of heart, imagination and fun.’ Independent on Sunday


  • Muswell Press UK
  • Berlin Verlag Germany
  • Meulenhof Netherlands
  • Munhakdongne Korea
  • Gema Greece

Material: UK edition and pdf (208pp)