I’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.”
Tickets are £5 (free to UoG students and staff) and you can book your place here.
As 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 Bombs. The 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 Review. The 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 good people at Libcom.org - ‘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!’
I’m delighted that the Spanish edition of Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs, Paz, 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….
From 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.
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.