Things that Make the Heart Beat Faster

Joao Morais’s contemporary debut collection of stories beats paths through a capital city from street food markets and art galleries to the park and the pub. From illegal raves to prison visits, Morais turns his unflinching beam on the quickened pulse of urban living: spliffs, fights, and hearts spark as relationships and power struggles are tested. Often comic, sometimes tragic, these stories detail the moments in their characters’ lives when everything changes and their hearts beat faster.

There's something in us all that makes us wanna get smashed. It's always been there in everyone. Back in the day, people used to shant beer instead of water. Their smokes were ten times stronger, so you would get a headrush just from looking at a pipe. You would smash as much opium as you could to cure everything from a cough to a hangover to a sawn-off leg. And fuck the afternoon pick-me-up cuppa when you could have a mug of brandy and half a teaspoon of cocaine instead. – ‘Things That Make the Heart Beat Faster’


‘João Morais’s “Yes Kung Fu” is a great slice of comic Cardiff urban realism, as if written by a Welsh Irvine Welsh’

– Independent on Sunday

‘This is the side of Cardiff that needs to express itself, behind and beyond the glitz in the Bay and the office parties and the executive junkets to the Principality Stadium; this is the capital in its seething, sordid, seamy glory, exhilarating and intoxicating and hilarious and sad all at once. God, João Morais can write.’

– Niall Griffiths

‘The stories in Things that Make the Heart Beat Faster are love letters to a Cardiff few people from outside the city will ever really know, except perhaps through Morais’ fierce eye and incisive ear for detail. To read him is to feel you’ve been granted access to a kaleidoscopic riot of a place where you wouldn’t ordinarily be allowed.’

– Rachel Trezise

‘A wise, funny and fizzing-with-life depiction of Cardiff, its street life, nightlife, and home life. Morais tells us stories of compassion, self-destruction, and awakening, all brilliantly captured in the distinctive voice of the Welsh capital and its multi-cultural people.’

– Holly Müller, author of My Own Dear Brother (Bloomsbury)

Joao takes no prisoners - whether's he's ripping into the pretentious arty farty crowd or dopeheads or tracksuit-wearing 'brers'. He is an equal opportunities assassin, and yet he kills with love.

— Crystal Jeans, Wales Book of the Year 2018 fiction winner

'Precise, mercurial, and laced with acerbic wit, these stories are brilliant snapshots of city life.' 

— Tyler Keevil, author of No Good Brother (Borough Press)