Booker Prize-winning novelist James Kelman is joined by Alan Black to discuss his new novel
God’s Teeth and and Other Phenomena
published by PM Press
Jack Proctor, a celebrated older writer and curmudgeon, goes off to residency where he is to be an honored part of teaching and giving public readings, he soon finds the atmosphere of the literary world has changed since his last foray into the public sphere. Unknown to most, unable to work on his own writing, surrounded by a host of odd characters, would-be writers, antagonists, handlers, and members of the elite House of Art and Aesthetics, Proctor finds himself driven to distraction (literally in a very very tiny car). This is a story of a man attempting not to go mad when forced to stop his own writing in order to coach others to write. Proctor’s tour of rural places, pubs, theaters, fancy parties, where he is to be headlining as a “Banker-Prize-Winning-Author” reads like a literary version of This Is Spinal Tap. Uproariously funny, brilliantly philosophical, gorgeously written. This is James Kelman at his best.
James Kelman was born in Glasgow, June 1946, and left school in 1961. He travelled and worked various jobs, and while living in London began to write. In 1994 he won the Booker Prize for How Late It Was, How Late. His novel, A Disaffection, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 1989. In 1998, Kelman was awarded the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award. His 2008 novel Kieron Smith, Boy won the Saltire Society’s Book of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year. He lives in Glasgow with his wife, Marie.
Alan Black is the former literary manager of San Francisco’s famous bookish venue Edinburgh Castle Pub. His work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, and The Christian Science Monitor. He is cofounder of the Scottish Cultural and Arts Foundation and coeditor of Public House, an anthology. He is also the author of Kick the Balls: A Bruising Season in the Life of a Suburban Soccer Coach.
Praise for the work of James Kelman:
“James Kelman changed my life.”—Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain
“God’s Teeth and Other Phenomena is electric. Forget all the rubbish you’ve been told about how to write, the requirements of the marketplace and the much vaunted ‘readability’ that is supposed to be sacrosanct. This is a book about how art gets made, its murky, obsessive, unedifying demands and the endless, sometimes hilarious, humiliations literary life inflicts on even its most successful names.”—Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians
“James Kelman is an extraordinary writer—smart and incisive, witty and warm, with prose so alive it practically sparks off the page. God’s Teeth and Other Phenomena is one of the wisest, funniest and most brutally honest books I’ve read in ages. I loved it.”—Molly Antopol, author of The Unamericans
“Probably the most influential novelist of the post-war period.”—The Times
“Kelman has the knack, maybe more than anyone since Joyce, of fixing in his writing the lyricism of ordinary people’s speech … Pure aesthete, undaunted democrat—somehow Kelman manages to reconcile his two halves.”—Esquire (London)
“The greatest British novelist of our time.”—Sunday Herald
“A true original … A real artist … it’s now very difficult to see which of his peers can seriously be ranked alongside [Kelman] without ironic eyebrows being raised.”—Irvine Welsh, Guardian
“A writer of world stature, a 21st century Modern.”—The Scotsman
“The real reason Kelman, despite his stature and reputation, remains something of a literary outsider is not, I suspect, so much that great, radical Modernist writers aren’t supposed to come from working-class Glasgow, as that great, radical Modernist writers are supposed to be dead. Dead, and wrapped up in a Penguin Classic: that’s when it’s safe to regret that their work was underappreciated or misunderstood (or how little they were paid) in their lifetimes. You can write what you like about Beckett or Kafka and know they’re not going to come round and tell you you’re talking nonsense, or confound your expectations with a new work. Kelman is still alive, still writing great books, climbing.”—James Meek, London Review of Books
“The greatest living British novelist.”—Amit Chaudhuri, author of A New World, Frieze Magazine
“What an enviably, devilishly wonderful writer is James Kelman.”—John Hawkes, author of The Blood Oranges
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.