Latest Blogs

  • This is a new piece that I wrote for the Guardian family section. It's based on a photo that gets a mention in The Day That Went Missing, but the book wasn't the time or place for the full story of what that photo demonstrated or made me feel. 'For most of my life, and I’m 50 now, one piece of information about my brother had blocked all others. “Dead” became the barrier; a restraining wall. Nicky’s deadness became his defining characteristic, although he must have had others: he was nine when he drowned. I was 11, his closest brother by age, but to contain the grief I had dismissed his character as provisional. He was a child. Now he

  • The British Archive for Contemporary Writing has now catalogued the contents of the suitcases I delivered last summer. I thought I had a jumble of papers and notebooks. But to an archivist I had a documentary history that could be organised within an inch of its life. The bits and pieces are kept in climate-controlled conditions in the basement of the library at the University of East Anglia, and the catalogue is now online. Of the various listings, the highlights include 'Rejection letters, 1989-2000 (folder)' and 'Incomplete novel, in style of Micky Spillane, 1990 (folder)'. Though for the key to my writing career nothing will ever quite beat: 'FORUM / EROTIC STORIES magazines, 1990-1992'. For details of the full collection, the archive has

  • I wrote a piece about how my early-century rugby reports for Midsomer Norton rugby club found their way into one of the greatest Oulipian novels written in English. Full article here

  • What connects the CIA, Somerset’s Midsomer Norton Rugby Football Club and 1970s experimental literature in Paris? Easy. The answer has to be Harry Mathews. At least, it’s easy for me, because I’m the other connection. The novelist Harry Mathews, the “American Oulipian” who died earlier this year, was an entertaining and reliable correspondent. I could expect letters in fountain pen, on heavy engraved paper, from any of his four addresses. In the early 2000s he would update me on his novel My Life in CIA: A chronicle of 1973. “Part non-fiction, part fiction”, he let me know from New York; “I have a feeling the French will get more of a kick out of it than my fellows here”. Back in

  • Uncovering Family Secrets I'm on at 10.00 am with Vanessa Nicolson and John de St Jorre. The programme says: 'Three writers who have uncovered truths buried in their family history discuss why families kept secrets in the past and contrast it with today where we are encouraged to be more open about family tragedies.' Early start to avoid the crush. More information and tickets here.  

  • Judging is now under way for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious literary award. Honoured to be on the jury this year, and looking forward to discovering new authors (to me, at least) and great books. With my fellow jurors I'm expecting to read as many as 150 submissions. So far this has been a great reminder that there's always time for reading. Back to it! More information on the 2017 jury here.

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