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DDjohnston2compressedD.D. Johnston is a novelist and short story writer. He lives in Cheltenham and works at the University of Gloucestershire, where he is a University Teaching Fellow and a senior lecturer in Creative Writing.

His first novel, Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs, featured in The Sunday Herald’s Books of the Year for 2011, as a choice of Helen Fitzgerald, who said “Peace Love & Petrol Bombs, the debut novel by DD Johnston (AK Press, £8.99), is a non-preachy coming-of-age story set amid the complex and chaotic backdrop of anti-capitalist politics. It’s also funny as all hell. coverAnd it’s got morally ambiguous people in it. Exactly my cup of organic free-trade tea.” Popmatters described it as “a humorous and poignant novel about anarchism – possibly a first” and added that “this genial, engaging, yet serious search for meaning in a commodified global culture deserves wide acclaim” (John L. Murphy). While The Morning Star wrote that “Rarely has a recent work of fiction so naturally and unpretentiously articulated Marx’s analysis of worker alienation explicitly and implicitly in its plotlines and dialogue. (…) Peace, Love and Petrol Bombs has a very urgent relevance now and for the immediate future” (Paul Simon). Peace, love, & Petrol Bombs has been recorded as an audio book for, and is published in Spanish as Paz, amor y cócteles molotov (Hoja de Lata, 2013; translated by Raquel Duato García).

Thrub coverHis recently-published second novel, The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, made the judges’ longlist for the Goldsmith’s Prize and has been described as ”a determinedly extraordinary book” by The Morning Star, and ‘very, very funny’ by Georgina Godwin of Monocle Radio. described it as ‘A historical epic, a story about love, revolution and the university, with echoes of Luther Blissett’s Q and a lot of laughs (…) a great book which entertains, confuses and educates in equal measure.’ It was originally written as a doctoral thesis at the University of Gloucestershire, and came to the attention of Barbican Press when Martin Goodman read the thesis as an external examiner. Goodman later wrote: ‘In performance terms, it was like watching someone ride an inflatable monocycle over the English Channel, spinning plates in his left hand and juggling pomegranates with his right, while reciting War and Peace in Russian in the voice of Donald Duck.  Well, something like that. He took the standard rules of fiction and made playful confetti out of them. There was a sparking intelligence there, terrific ways with language, plus real soul and inventiveness and laugh-out loud humour.’ A Q&A with the author is available here.

twitter logoD.D. Johnston also writes a bit of short fiction, and you can read one of his stories, ‘The Invitation’, online in issue six of the lampeter Review. An earlier version of the story was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

Links are also available to online interviews with the author, essays by the author, and – in a nod to social media culture – pointless lists of stuff the author likes. Thanks for reading and please see below for latest news, events, and ramblings, or follow him on Twitter.

Talking Literature with Rob Newman at the University of Gloucestershire this Wednesday

robnewmanpressphoto1I’m excited to be talking literature with Rob Newman at the University of Gloucestershire tomorrow night. Rob is a “goosepimplingly brilliant” comedian, the author of four acclaimed novels, and the star of television shows including The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, A History of Oil, and A History of the World Backwards. We’ll be talking literature, politics, philosophy, history, and his new novel, The Trade Secret – an outrageous, continent-crossing epic that is described by The Guardian as “a rollicking Elizabethan yarn that has much to say about the origins and nature of modern capitalism.”

19:30, FCH TC001, Wednesday March 26th 2014
Tickets are £5 (free to UoG students and staff) and you can book your place here.
In the meantime, here’s Rob explaining why the First World War should be remembered as an invasion of Iraq.

New media pieces: S:News, The Warwick Review, The Morning Star, and Qué Leer

Que_LeerAs the year ends, I want to say thanks for a few new media pieces that have appeared recently. The photo by Marta Calvo was taken on the terrace of La Central bookstore in Barcelona, when I was visiting to promote the Spanish version of Peace, Love & Petrol BombsThe picture’s in the top Spanish literary magazine, Qué Leer.

I’m also grateful to author Christopher Burns for his intelligent and thoughtful review of The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, which appears in the new issue of the venerable Warwick ReviewThe review is much fuller and more thought-provoking than can be conveyed in a sound bite, but here’s a sample:

Readers are likely to find Thrub either exciting or precious, but few will disagree that this is an ambitious, erudite work with a profound interest in the world as we find it. This interest encompasses unexpectedly vivid sensory descriptions, scenes of violence such as those found in Babel, a junction of philosophy and farce reminiscent of Stoppard, a B.S. Johnson like use of distancing, and an ongoing dialectic between Kantian and post-Kantian theories of being and action.

In addition, last week I had the pleasure of chatting with journalist Michael Donnelly, who’s recently launched an independent media venture: S:News. The interview’s available to read here.

Finally, if you’re still shopping for presents, have a look at The Morning Star‘s review of the year’s best left-wing fiction. There are some great titles mentioned, so I’m grateful to Paul Simon for including Thrub. He writes:

As expansive in its scope and even more ambitious in its characterisation, DD Johnston’s The Deconstruction Of Professor Thrub spans poverty-stricken Belfast, the Spanish civil war and Hungary 1956. A galloping discussion of free will and skit on academic life, it’s a book that frequently explodes with raw and unexpurgated humour.

The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub reviewed by



The good people at - ‘a resource for all people who wish to fight to improve their lives, their communities and their working conditions’  - have just published a review of The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub:

‘A historical epic, a story about love, revolution and the university, with echoes of Luther Blissett’s Q and a lot of laughs, this is a great book which entertains, confuses and educates in equal measure.You should read it!’


Barcelona: Launch of Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs translation

I leave for Spain tomorrow, and I’m greatly looking forward to this on Tuesday:

Barcelona Event

Paz, amor y cócteles molotov: Spanish translation of Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs is out today

portada_completa_pazloveI’m delighted that the Spanish edition of Peace, Love, & Petrol BombsPaz, amor y cócteles molotov, comes out today. It’s published by Hoja de Lata, a thriving young independent press, which was started by Daniel Alvarez with the redundancy money he received after his job in the book industry fell victim to the recession. Since launching their list in April with a translation of Arraianos by the Nobel Prize proposed Galician author Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín, Hoja de Lata have enjoyed success with a new book every month. Other texts include Spanish translations of the letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart, and a Spanish version of Jean Malaquais’ Les Javanais, which won the Prix Renaudot in 1939.  Paz, amor y cócteles molotov is translated by Raquel Duato García, and I hear it’s a brilliant version. I’m eager to read it, and I figure all I need is a decade or two of evening classes….


The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub on NetGalley

Thrub coverFrom now until the end of November, registered professional readers can get free digital access to the Deconstruction of Professor Thrub via NetGalley. To access Thrub, reviewers are invited to click here.

Cheltenham Literature Festival, this Tuesday

This Tuesday (8th October) I’m doing an event with my colleague Tyler Keevil at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Tyler and I will be discussing our new novels, The Drive and The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, both of which developed from Creative Writing PhDs. The event will be hosted by author and literary critic Martin Randall (who supervised me while Thrub developed as a PhD). In addition to readings and literary banter, rumour has it – and it’s a rumour I can neither confirm nor deny – that the event will also feature the first boxing match in the history of the world’s oldest literature festival… If you’re intrigued, join us at 6pm on Tuesday October 8th. The event is free and will be held in The University of Gloucestershire Tent at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Imperial Square, Cheltenham.

Keevil V Johnston


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