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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

Head in a Book, Hull, this Thursday

Head in a bookI’m off to Hull tomorrow to read at a Head in a Book event along with Barbican Press author Martin Goodman. Head In A Book is a cycle of literature events in Hull, which presents readings and interviews with an impressive role call of writers. The events are located in libraries around Hull with the intention of bringing literature into local communities, and increasing the use of local libraries. So I’m very happy to be involved, and I’m excited to be visiting Hull – where I’ve never previously been. For preparation, I’m reading lots of Larkin and trying to learn a bit about rugby league. If you happen to be in that part of the world, the event’s at Hull Central Library, on Thursday 19th September, at 7.30pm.


Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs now available as an audio book

P,L,&PaudibleThe audio version of Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs is now available via It’s narrated by the very talented Roger Clark, who brilliantly moves between accents and interjects great comedy with how he reads the dialogue – well worth a listen! You can buy it via this link, or listen to a sample here.

Morning Star reviews the Deconstruction of Professor Thrub

220px-Morning_Star_front_page_19_April_2010_”a determinedly extraordinary novel” is the verdict of Paul Simon, whose review of The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub appeared in The Morning Star last week:

Johnston takes us on quite an emotional and intellectual journey…. The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub is like a dopamine-enhanced Porterhouse Blue. As a PhD student grapples with the issues of free will and determinism refracted through the life of a Spanish civil war veteran, Johnston offers us a clanging charivari of clinical administrators, angry old academics and randy students.

The full text of of the review is available to read here: Morning Star review of The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub

History in The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub

Makhno photographed in exile

Makhno photographed before his death in Paris

Andriy, one of the characters in The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, fights in the Makhnovist peasant army: a Ukrainian cavalry-based guerrilla force that in 1919 briefly controlled an area about the size of England. The history of the Makhnovists – like the biography of their leader, Nestor Makhno – is an extraordinary one, but what most interested me was the relationship between these peasant soldiers and the Mennonite colonists that then lived in South-Eastern Ukraine. While in one set of histories the Makhnovists are remembered for their daring-do and their struggle for social justice, in another set of histories they are remembered as vicious and degenerate bandits. At the time I was researching this period for Thrub, no attempts had been made to appraise or reconcile these conflicting histories, and so I tried to summarise some of what I read here. Well, I’m pleased to say that Sean Patterson’s thesis on this topic, The Makhnos of Memory: Mennonite and Makhnovist Narratives of the Civil War in Ukraine, 1917-1921, is now available to read online. It’s excellent and thorough scholarship that in its scope and rigour far eclipses the existing histories of Makhnovist-Mennonite relations. I don’t necessarily agree with all his conclusions, but I heartily recommend this thesis to anyone wanting to read more about these violent times.