The Red-Headed Pilgrim

Provocative, poignant, and resoundingly hilarious, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the tragicomic tale of an anxious red-head and his sordid pursuit of enlightenment and pleasure (not necessarily in that order).

On a sunny day in a business park near Portland, Oregon, 42-year-old web developer Kevin Maloney is in the throes of an existential crisis that finds him shoeless in a field of Queen Anne’s lace, reflecting on the tumultuous events that brought him to this moment. Growing up in the suburbs, young Kevin suffered “a psychological break that ripped me from my humdrum existence” mainlining high fructose corn syrup and episodes of The Golden Girls. Thus begins a journey of hard-earned insights and sexual awakening that takes Kevin from angst-ridden Beaverton to the beaches of San Diego, a frontier-themed roadside attraction in Helena, Montana, and a hermetic shack on an organic lettuce farm.

Everything changes when Kevin falls in love with Wendy. After a chance tarot reading lands them on the frigid coast of Maine, their lives are unsettled by the birth of their daughter, Zoë, whose sudden presence is oftentimes terrifying, frequently disturbing, and yet—miraculously—always wondrous.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is an irresistible novel of misadventure and new beginnings, of wanderlust and bad decisions, of parenthood and divorce, and of the heartfelt truths we unearth when we least expect it.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim makes the long list for the 2024 Tournament of Books!
View the 2024 Long List for The Tournament of Books

“Heartbreakingly witty, Kevin Maloney’s The Red-Headed Pilgrim captures the coming of age of an idealistic man-child as he tours the united states in search of meaning.”
—Nick Rees Gardner, Independent Book Review
“The Best Books We Read in 2023”

“It’s hard to write an honest book. It’s even harder to write an honest book that is charming, hilarious and doesn’t make the author sound like a crusty, tower-dwelling sage.”
—Mila Jaroniec, Southwest Review
“10 Must-Read Books of 2023”

“I like to think of The Red-Headed Pilgrim as the perfect book for anyone who loved Kerouac but wondered what would happen if, like most of us, he eventually had to grow up and become responsible to someone else. This novel broke my heart over and over again in the best way as it followed the protagonist (also named Kevin Maloney) on his pilgrimage to lose his virginity and gain enlightenment. Along the way there is farm work and camping; there are wild women and almost loves; there is actual love and its fallout; there is parenting and the chaos that it entails; maybe most importantly there is the constant struggle to build a life that feels meaningful.”
—Shelby Hinte, Write or Die Magazine
“Book Picks of 2023”

“In the throes of an existential crisis, a middle-aged web developer renounces his humdrum life in Portland, Ore., and embarks on a cross-country trip, finding love, meaning and a new life on the coast of Maine.”
New York Times“Newly Published”