Case Study was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2022. Graeme Macrae Burnet offers a dazzlingly inventive - and often wickedly humorous - meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth itself.

‘I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger.’

London, 1965. An unworldly young woman believes that a charismatic psychotherapist, Collins Braithwaite, has driven her sister to suicide. Intent on confirming her suspicions, she assumes a false identity and presents herself to him as a client, recording her experiences in a series of notebooks. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. Even her own character…

Published by Saraband.

The Booker Prize 2022
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Graeme Macrae Burnet

Graeme Macrae Burnet

About the Author

Graeme Macrae Burnet has been nominated for the Booker Prize twice - shortlisted in 2016 and longlisted in 2022. He is among Britain's leading contemporary novelists, whose work has been translated into more than 20 languages and achieved bestseller status in several countries.
More about Graeme Macrae Burnet

Graeme Macrae Burnet on Case Study

‘I love research and of course there’s no shortage of great material on the ‘Swinging 60s’, but for the vast majority of people the 60s weren’t swinging at all. Most folk still lived in post-war austerity Britain, with brown furniture and retrograde social attitudes. So while I did immerse myself in the fiction and memoirs of the 60s, by far the most important research I did was ploughing through issue after issue of women’s magazines from the time - where I found a quite different set of attitudes than the ones we popularly imagine of that period.’

‘I love the fact that people find my books hard to classify. His Bloody Project has been called a crime novel, a historical novel, a gothic novel, literary fiction, as well as a true crime book(!). To me, it’s just a novel. Similarly with Case Study, I didn’t think at all about genre when I was writing it. What I want most is for readers to engage with the characters. I don’t subscribe to the view that you can either have emotional or intellectual engagement – I want both!’

Read the interview here.

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

What the judges said

‘A mystery story - or is it? - that takes us into the heart of the psychoanalytical consulting room. Or does it? Interleaving a biography of radical ‘60s ‘untherapist’ Collins Braithwaite with the notebooks of his patient ‘Rebecca’, a young woman seeking answers about the death of her sister, ‘GMB’ presents a forensic, elusive and mordantly funny text(s) layered with questions about authenticity and the self.’

What the critics said

Christian Lorentzen, The New York Times Book Review

‘A diverting novel, overflowing with clever plays on and inversions of tropes of English intellectual and social life during the postwar decades. As such, it is not exactly an excursion into undiscovered literary terrain. Reading Burnet’s doubly mediated metafiction of North London neurotics and decadents, I often longed to turn back to the shelf for the real thing […] It’s a compliment to put Case Study in that company and no insult to say that Burnet must have done his homework to get there.’

Malcolm Forbes, The Star Tribune

‘It is an elaborate, mind-bending guessing game; it is a blackly comic and quietly moving study of a nervous breakdown; and it is a captivating portrait of an egomaniac. If the notebooks depict a gripping chain of events, then the biographical sections expertly flesh out the grotesque, manipulative yet charismatic Braithwaite. Macrae has reliably delivered another work of fiendish fun.’

James Walton, The Times 

‘Such admittedly lofty themes might give the impression that Case Study is a rather punishing chin-stroker of a novel. In fact, Burnet’s triumph is that it’s a page-turning blast, funny, sinister and perfectly plotted so as to reveal — or withhold — its secrets in a consistently satisfying way. It also does a fine job of keeping our sympathies shifting, and of conjuring up a lost cultural era. Rarely has being constantly wrong-footed been so much fun.’

Kate Webb, Times Literary Supplement

‘Tortuous, cunning and highly self-conscious new novel, filled with doubles and doppelgängers. Readers who equate self-referentiality with intellectual integrity, or who simply enjoy being toyed with, are in for a treat.’

Allan Massie, The Scotsman

‘Macrae Burnet writes with an admirable lucidity, at the same time being able to probe and shed light on the dark places of the mind. Writing in a prose that is spare, deadpan and yet alive, he poses questions about the nature and perception of what we choose to call reality. He is an uncommonly interesting and satisfying novelist.’

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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Other nominated books by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody Project