A Novel

Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal’s spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.

Over the course of two decades, immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine to make Mal the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion, Mal’s condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But his actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.

Upon Bed’s publication, Kirkus Reviews declared, “Once in a great while a book will emerge from nowhere to acclaim.” In Bed, David Whitehouse has put a magnifying glass on contemporary society. The result—a parable about mortality, obesity, celebrity, depression and the broken promises of adulthood— is “as soulful as it is funny” (The Guardian).
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  • Scribner | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451614237 | 
  • August 2012
List Price $16.00
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Read an Excerpt


Asleep he sounds like a pig hunting truffles in soot. It isn’t snoring, more of a death rattle. But for that it is a quiet morning, the morning of Day Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty-Three, according to the display on the wall.

The peace is punctuated only by the crashing of a crow into the patio door. This almighty clatter doesn’t wake Mal, who continues to produce great growls from deep within his chest. They echo in my ears like the sonar conversations between dolphins and submarines.

Mal weighs a hundred stone, they predicted. That’s big. That’s more than half a ton. Those photographs... see more

Mal liked to be the first person to do things. Not just the first person in the house, or the first person in his class, but the first person in the entire world. There is a limit to the things you can be first to do when you are a child. He used to ask, “Has anyone ever . . . ?” Mum would say yes, if only to stop him trying to walk across the bottom of the sea. She learned this lesson on a rare occasion when she chose not to listen to him. Five hours after she had palmed him off with an absentminded “no,” the policeman that came to placate her worst fears spotted Mal naked on the roof, clinging to the... see more

About the Author

David Whitehouse
Photograph by Rankin

David Whitehouse

David Whitehouse's first novel, Bed, winner of the 2012 Betty Trask Prize, has been published in eighteen countries. He has several TV and film projects in development with Film4, Warp, the BBC, and others. He writes regularly for the Guardian, and The Times, and is currently the Editor-at-Large of ShortList magazine.




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