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Nick Cave and Seán O’Hagan on Faith, Hope and Carnage

What is love? How does faith work? How do we handle grief?

‘We are all, at some point in our lives, obliterated by loss. If you haven’t been by now, you will be in time – that’s for sure. And, of course, if you have been fortunate enough to have been truly loved, in this world, you will also cause extraordinary pain to others when you leave it. That’s the covenant of life and death, and the terrible beauty of grief.’ – Nick Cave, Faith, Hope and Carnage 

In the depths of the pandemic of summer 2020 Nick Cave began a series of long conversations with his old friend Seán O’Hagan. The 40 hours of recordings have been distilled into a remarkable bestselling book, Faith, Hope and Carnage. In it Cave, one of the world’s most acclaimed and visionary musicians, talks with radical candour about his past, his loves, his work ethic, his creativity and the agony of losing his 15-year-old son Arthur in 2015. The book addresses all the big questions: What is love? How does faith work? How do we handle grief?

In November 2023 Cave and O’Hagan came to the Intelligence Squared stage to continue the conversation, as they explored the human condition and offered hoped. As Cave says, ‘Despite how debased or corrupt we are told humanity is, and how degraded the world has become, it just keeps on being beautiful. It can’t help it.’

Praise for Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan’s Faith, Hope and Carnage 

‘Illuminating … a great deal of beauty in Cave’s descriptions of the strange reckless power that comes when the worst has happened … if it meets a need for Cave, it also feels like a gift to the reader.’  – The Sunday Times

‘An extraordinary, uplifting book …This is a book you could dip into if you had no knowledge of Cave at all, just to find someone unafraid to ask all the big questions: what is grief? What is forgiveness? … Everyday carnage has brought forth a book of hope and freedom and life.’ – The Daily Telegraph

‘This beautiful book is a lament, a celebration, a howl, a secular prayer, a call to arms, a meditation and an exquisite articulation of the human condition. It will take your breath away.’ — Rachel Clarke, The Observer

‘An absolutely wonderful book. I don’t think I’ve ever read so integrated and searching an engagement with how faith works, how creativity works, and how grief is bound up with both.’ — Rowan Williams

‘The most compelling book of the year – raw pain and struggle thought through and explored with rare courage.’ – The New Statesman, Books of the Year



Nick Cave

Musician, songwriter and author

Perhaps best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave’s artistic output is prolific and ever evolving. Over a creative career that spans more than forty years, Cave has worked across a diverse number of disciplines: as a solo and collaborative musician, a score composer, a writer of books, film scripts, and his weekly mailer, The Red Hand Files, and more recently as a ceramic artist.  

Seán O’Hagan

Journalist and critic

Seán O’Hagan has interviewed many major artists, writers and musicians over the last four decades. He currently works as a feature writer for The Observer and is the photography critic for The Guardian.