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Michael decides to flee to America and end his life once all his savings run out. JJ Bola’s second novel is a story of millennial existential angst told through the eyes of a young Londoner who seems to have it all – a promising future, a solid career, strong friendships, a blossoming love story – but it’s the unbearable weight of life that leads him to decide to take his own.

As he grapples with issues bigger than him – political conflict, environmental desecration, police brutality – Michael seeks to find his place within a world that is complicated and unwelcoming.

Although he finds solace in the people that surround him, he alone must decide if his life is worth living.


In this wonderfully tender novel about masculinity and mental health, about being lost and finding yourself again, Bola's vulnerable delicate writing conveys so much truth and heart about how we are now, how closed we are, how much goes unsaid and the quiet pain in our hearts
Nikesh Shukla
This book is a bold work with a broad scope, bravely tackling masculinity, hopelessness and despair with force and directness
Okechukwu Nzelu
A beautiful, absorbing read. By turns searing and quietly devastating
Irenosen Okojie
I knew from the opening, that this book was going to break my heart. The Selfless Act of Breathing left me breathless. It is beautifully tender. I was gripped right from the opening. The structure pacing, description, narration, and voice make this book a Masterclass in empathy. It is moving with tension multi layered like a symphony. The Selfless Act of Breathing is immersive and reflective; challenging what we might think mental health crisis looks like and who has them
Yvonne Battle-Felton