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The Sleeping Car Porter

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349703916

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 4th April 2024

Genre: Fiction & Related Items

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When a mudslide strands a train, Baxter, a sleeping car porter, must contend with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair.

Baxter’s name isn’t George. But it’s 1929, and Baxter is lucky enough, as a Black man, to have a job as a sleeping car porter on a train that crisscrosses the country. So when the passengers call him George, he has to just smile and nod and act invisible. What he really wants is to go to dentistry school, but he’ll have to save up a lot of nickel and dime tips to get there, so he puts up with “George.”

On this particular trip out west, the passengers are more unruly than usual, especially when the train is stalled for two extra days; their secrets start to leak out and blur with the sleep-deprivation hallucinations Baxter is having. When he finds a naughty postcard of two queer men, Baxter’s memories and longings are reawakened; keeping it puts his job in peril, but he can’t part with the postcard or his thoughts of Edwin Drew, Porter Instructor.


Mayr's prose is vivid but never overwrought, capturing the surrealism of intense fatigue in constant motion . . . Readers will be captivated.
Publishers Weekly
In 1929, being a passenger train porter was fraught with challenges...Baxter's own sleep deprivation is perhaps the most intriguing character of the book. It leads to hallucinations, questionable decisions, and borderline supernatural suggestions.
Kirkus Reviews
Suzette Mayr's novel The Sleeping Car Porter an artfully constructed story that moves, beguiles, and satisfies.
Brett Josef Grubisic, The Toronto Star
Mayr evokes the mystique of transcontinental travel and the tumult of lives on the margins in this much-anticipated period novel. All aboard!
Oprah Daily
I couldn't help imagining what a film Wes Anderson might make of Suzette Mayr's The Sleeping Car Porter.
The New York Times
Wonderfully immersive and rich with period detail, Baxter's story will grip you from start to finish. An achingly beautiful portrait of navigating systems intent on denying your humanity, and the ultimate triumph of human connection.
Angela Chadwick
Suspenseful and pitch-perfectly paced, The Sleeping Car Porter captures the fascinating, lively, and absurd social life of 1920s through an unforgettable intercontinental train journey. Suzette Mayr vividly creates a claustrophobic, compartmentalised world in which the closeted desire and aspiration of a gay Black porter unfold in his fleeting encounters with passengers that are funny, scarring, and allegorical. The politics of looking and hiding sears the pages and makes me laugh, cry, and shiver.
Kit Fan
I fell in love immediately with Baxter, sleeping car porter and aspiring dentist. This is a novel so richly written that I felt every bump in the track physically, and every passenger's ill-mannered slight emotionally. A wonderful book that I'll never forget.
Louise Hare
The Sleeping Car Porter is a vital, visceral, exhilarating novel, written in gut-punch prose. I loved it.
Preti Taneja
This is an utterly mesmerising novel. Mary's prose is truly mellifluous, each sentence a miracle that demands and rewards attention. Almost like a train itself, the action halts and pauses so that we can take a good look at each of its fascinating, complex characters before accelerating to a wondrous finish at an unexpected destination. A beautiful, deeply absorbing work.
Okechukwu Nzelu
[Mayr] conveys the intensely closeted, time-bending surrealism of a long-distance train journey with immersive, cinematic flair, not to mention the hallucinatory fantasies of an increasingly sleep-deprived Baxter who, as a character clinging to his dreams, is impossible not to get behind.
Daily Mail
With spry prose, an artful narrative structure, and the envelopingly confined setting of a sleeper train, The Sleeping Car Porter is richly enjoyable and replete with telling details.
Naoise Dolan