In this, the second volume of a projected Manchester trilogy, the young writer takes a zero-hours job in a mail-sorting depot but struggles to cope with the demands of menial work and the attitudes of his colleagues. Only after rescuing and acquiring a pet tortoise does he realise what is most lacking in his life: intimacy. Embarking on a handful of sexual misadventures, he continues to struggle as a writer. He sees the city in which he was born and brought up changing all around him and, when he gets sacked from the sorting office, some hard choices lie ahead.
A powerful indictment of austerity politics and Brexit Britain, the novel never loses sight of its working-class characters’ dignity and humanity, and Campbell’s mordantly witty dialogue ensures that the next laugh is never far away. Gripping in its fascination with the everyday, Zero Hours is keenly observed, blackly funny and ultimately uplifting.