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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Brierley's Boarding School for Boys, 1930s

Gray - a kindly but weak teacher with a secret he cannot reveal
Hodges - a headmaster who wields a terrifying and brutal power
Keen - a first year boy bullied viciously and mercilessly
Smythe - a ringleader intent on enforcing his fagging rights
Thompson - a prefect struggling just to survive

A new term opens with appalling tragedy, the
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 30th 2014 (first published May 24th 2014)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
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Disturbing. Brutish. Terrifying. Such are the goings on amongst the students and faculty at Brierley’s Boarding School for Boys. They are also believable. There is no safety net for the reader of “oh, it’s just fiction” or “oh, this is simply an exaggeration for entertainment.” While it is fiction, there is nothing at all fantastic about the characters, the place or the events that happen here.

The only comfort that the reader will find at Brierley’s comes from the writing itself. Bullying is br
George Hamilton
The deeply hidden desires of boarding school master, John Gray, collide with an unspeakable crime. As he stands alone to safeguard a junior pupil from the brutal bullying of four prefects, he comes up against a school determined to protect its reputation, even if it means destroying a brilliant teacher.

This novel digs deep into the soul of the main character to unearth his most personal thoughts, desires, and secrets, which ultimately lead to a slow breakdown that is both intimate and intrusive
Elyse  Walters
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I read - with a lost review.

"FAG" takes place in a British Boarding School ....
Heartbreaking and beautifully written!!

I love Jonathan Hill !!!
Kath Middleton
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story, set in an English boarding school in the 1930s, looks at the effects of bullying and of a system in which the strongest survive. The prefects, with the collusion of the Headteacher, rule the school and decide on punishments. One teacher, John Gray, tries to bring the dangers to the head's attention but is not a strong enough character to make a stand. Married to the attractive nurse at the school, he has repressed his natural tendencies all his life and in an age when homosexuality i ...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
"FAG", was my chosen sauna read! ....a book which usually takes me longer to read --because I'm not in the sauna hours at a time ---but visit most days before an outdoor shower.

Jonathan Hill, is my friend on Goodreads. I had connected with him years ago. I'm sorry it took me so long to read one of his books. His others are MUCH different --I understand --(lighter, playful, love, fun adventures--which everyone 'raves')

FAG is NOT --light -and FUN -- However -- its very well written --a reminder o
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite it's somewhat uncomfortable and controversial title this is a fantastic book. If I could give half stars I would bump it up to 4.5 stars.

It takes place at a British boarding school in the 1930's. Before I read this I had never heard the term fagging before but I guess in the UK at boy's boarding schools it is something that is similar to what we would call hazing in fraternities in the US. So this book centers around 4 prefects, their fag, and a Latin teacher. There are all sorts of bul
Michael Murray
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The epigraph to Jonathan Hill's first novel is taken from Virgil's The Aeneid and it speaks of arms and the man; one whom is exiled by fate; a traveller assailed by land and sea. And it is The Aeneid which is a leitmotif within the novel, threading artlessly between the plot, the action and the narrative: beautifully stitching the whole tale together internally from beginning to end.

The Aeneid is also an objective correlative for the novel's embattled dual protagonists: both of whom are metaphor
David Wailing
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing wrong with a book designed purely for entertainment, but every so often you read one that really means something as well. This is one of those books. It’s important.

Set in a boys boarding school in 1930s England, this novel looks at the institutionalised bullying that the hierarchies of boarding schools promote. Almost from the start there is an atmosphere of tremendous oppression that affects teachers and pupils alike. But as the story develops, it becomes clear that bullying c
T4bsF (Call me Flo)
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was initially put off this book after reading one of the reviews. I am really glad that I decided to read it anyway and find out for myself. A very harrowing read in places, from the point of view of knowing about the unfairness of life that existed at this stage in our history, but powerless to go back in time and do anything about it.... somewhere along life's way though, there must have been some brave souls who stood up to be counted, as things are a lot different today - not perfect, but ...more
Nav Logan
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Review of a Book That Cannot Be Named: By Jonathan Hill

This new novel by Jonathan Hill exceeds all expectations. Having read and enjoyed some of his previous works, I looked forward to this book, but I was surprised at the immediate impact this book had on me. By the end of the first page I knew that this was something special. This book is an award winning book: the world just doesn’t know it yet.
It is highly insightful and a great social commentary, and is as relevant today as it was in the
Michael Brookes
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of the author's previous work. The Maureen stories are funny with deceptive emotional depth. His short stories and drabbles are often dark and perceptive and they demonstrate a mastery of the art. This first full novel of his is a very different beast and represents a departure from his usual forms.

Not only does he stretch his literary endurance he also tackles some very difficult and emotive themes and he does so with such a skill that you wouldn't expect this to be his first novel. T
This book was both beautiful (beautifully written, important, and moving) and heart-wrenching. I got emotional several times while reading it, yet couldn't put it down.

FAG is about a string of events at a boy's school in 1930s England. The prose is painfully and brutally honest as to what "fagging" was like in that environment and time period. The characters are all extremely well-written and fully-developed, layered beings. The story is suspenseful and agonizing (not in the way that it's told,
David Haynes
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fag by Jonathan Hill

What you’ve got here is a writer at the top of his game, writing about issues he is clearly passionate about. Add to that mix, a story of understated power and the result is what one reviewer described as a masterpiece. I agree completely.

The poignant story is told with some truly elegant and clever writing and I was gripped immediately. The story itself deals with issues which sadly will be forever relevant in society. I for one found some relevancies in my own life, perhap
Craig Allen
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"At best, the repressed live a life of half-fulfillment, at worst, a life of tragedy. You are you and no one else."

You know how you run across a book everyone raves about, full of five star reviews, then you read it and don't get the hype? Or feel bad because you didn't enjoy it like the masses? Yeah, that's not what happened here. I saw the high rankings and great feedback but still went in weary. WOW, what a fantastic, but horrific, book.

I didn't read the full summary going in and would urge o
Philip (sarah) Willis

The title initially refers to the ranking system prevalent among pupils in the boarding schools of the time. As the harrowing story progresses however the word reverts to its more derogatory connotation.
The exquisite style of the writing belies the underpinning malevolence of the plot, I found myself rereading paragraphs relishing the sheer elegance of the narrative while paradoxically dreading discovering what indignities the characters were going to have to endure next.
The main impact of the b
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FAG is the story of life in an 1930s English boys boarding school. It is an unsettling read of bullying, intolerance and non-acceptance.

I sort of knew what was going to happen and it wasn't pleasant reading. This was a very well written book. The pain of the characters came through and it was heartbreaking at times. In writing this review, all I can think of are clichés, but that's because they are true.

In saying that this is a harrowing story, it is a page turner. As things spiral downwards, I
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-2016-books
In the past I'd read some of this author's "Maureen" work and frankly wasn't that impressed. This book is in a completely different league. It is a tale about a boarding school in the 1930's in the UK. It deals with the practice of younger boys acting as servants for older prefects (fagging). However it also deals with questions about sexuality. I found myself completely engrossed in the story. It also felt really very believable too. Throughout the book there is an underlying tension - well wor ...more
Debbie McGowan
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-best
This is an extraordinary novel, which at times I wondered if I could bear to continue reading, only to find myself making excuses to pick it up again. It is, without a doubt, the hardest book I've read. I finished it two days ago, and it's still on my mind...

How to explain.

OK, so, this will be a bit abstract, because I don't want to give anything away that's not in the blurb.

This is the sort of story that raises lots of questions, not in the sense that there is no conclusion. The conclusion is v
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in a boarding school for boys in the late 1930s the book examines the complex relationships that exist in this microcosmic world. The themes are bullying, prejudice, homophobia and personal isolation which are explored through an increasingly perturbing but totally convincing plot. I think the book could also be read as an allegory for emergent fascism and its resonances are dark and disturbing.
Nevertheless, the book is very compelling and once started I found it very difficult to stop readi
Aunty Janet
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This powerful story is set in a 1930's boarding school for boys. The brutality reminded me of 'Lord of the Flies', however this story is a different one. The hierarchy of prefects and younger boys is rigid and used as an excuse for cruel and humiliating behaviour. Such behaviour is both tolerated and ignored, with devastating consequences.
The title has two meanings, one a describing the 'lower classes' of the public school system and the menial tasks expected of them; the other if far more sinis
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
What can I say that hasn’t been said so eloquently by others. This is a powerful story of survival in an English boarding school. My heart went out to Keen, Thompson and Gray.
This is a must read.
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway knowing little about it. As a passionate advocate of rights for all humans regardless of sex, gender or sexuality I figured I would be sympathetic to the major themes of this work. Moreover, I respect any literature that includes contemporary social or political issues within its thematic scope; it's a risky artistic choice since so many readers seek to escape troubles -- both personal and societal -- through their reading. Accordingly, it seem ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

It is full of disturbing reality. But I really enjoyed reading it _ I couldn't put it down.
Tex Reader
4.0 of 5 stars – Tense, Moving Story of Abuse and Being Gay.
(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks, Jonathan!)

I love stories of gay life and YA, and I was intrigued by the use of a historical setting to address current issues. In his debut novel, I was impressed with how well Jonathan Hill crafted a story around the issues of being gay and bullied "for all those who feel, or at some point have felt, unable to be themselves" (as expressed in the book's dedication).

Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading the author’s collection of short stories in the Maureen series, so was eager to head into his first full length novel. I have to say if you are looking for Maureen Goes To Boarding School then you are in for a big disappointment as this read is a complete departure in style and content, being very much darker. Set in 1937 in a boys’ boarding school, the style of writing very much reflects that era and dialogue in particular really seems to “fit”. At times I could almost ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
What a fairly difficult book to review... From beginning to end I was torn up between a strong wish to skewer the author for the blemishes conspicuous between those covers and an equally ardent admiration for this young man's sheer literary talent. He does give us a quintessentially British and very male, blunt, honest yet deep and multifaceted novel - so many admirable traits which I find lacking in most MM fiction, not least because female writers disproportionately dominate this genre and clu ...more
Ulysses Dietz
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it

I confess I had trouble getting through this, but NOT because of Hill’s writing.

This is a beautifully, elegantly crafted novel. It is literate and evocative, capturing time and place expertly.
Hill gives us characters that are fully-realized and believable. He probes their interiors and bares their souls to the reader.

John Gray and Michael Thompson, teacher and student in an elite boys prep school in England in 1937. It is a story of desperate yearning to fit in, and the horrific results of tha
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
I'm conflicted about this book, as it had so much promise and I did enjoy it, yet was irritated by the language.

The book had all the ingredients. The plot was intriguing and exciting (tragic event at boys' boarding school leads to emotional manipulation and struggles of the boys and masters), and the pacing of the story was good. The themes of bullying and sexuality were and are important. The climax of the story lived up to the build-up. The ending was surprisingly hopeful. And the book itself
Phil Williams
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
What are the consequences of life in the closet? What lengths will homophobes go to keep you in the closet?

The 1930's. A young boy at an English boarding school commits suicide after being hazed unmercifully by the older boys. A teacher fighting his own homosexual urges, is accused of molesting the boy, leading to his death. A gay kid is pulled into the drama and makes a decision that nearly destroys him.

A powerful, disturbing novel of hate and fear and the hope of love.
Amy (Amysbookcorner)
I received this book in the return of a honest review.

Honestly i found t hard to read the book and if i would say that i read the whole thing I would lying .
I enjoyed some part of the book when the investigation started and such but no the others (sorry). so after 200 or so pages i just read the epilogue of the book. For this book i would give somewhere in between 2.5 - 3 so i rate it to three.
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Jonathan Hill is an author from Manchester, UK.

His work isn’t confined to one genre, but he has already published a number of gay literary fiction books to high critical acclaim. His debut novel 'FAG', a hard-hitting story set in an English boarding school in the 1930s, was named as the overall winner in the Self-Published and Small Press 2014 Book Awards.

He has also penned the hit comedy series

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