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Francis Spufford's first book, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination, was awarded the Writers Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996 and a Somerset Maugham Award. His second book, The Child that Books Built was described as ' witty, compelling and elegant' by the New Statesman. His third book, Backroom Boys, was called a ' beautifully written book' by the Daily Telegraph and was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in Cambridge.
Author photo © Burt Koetsier
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. Inventively entertaining, niftily plotted first novel set in New York during the city’s effervescent infancy. It’s 1746 and a young man by the name of Smith arrives in New York from London with an order for £1000. He takes it to a Lovell, a banker based on Golden Hill Street, in order to have it cashed. “Lord love us,” Lovell exclaims at the sight of so large an amount. “This is a bill for a thousand pound”. Speculation is duly aroused: what on earth is Smith planning to do with such a quantity of cash? And what’s his purpose in the city? But Smith emerges from the counting house as “a young man with money in his pocket, new-fallen to land in a strange city on the world’s farther face”. The depiction of place is gratifyingly sensory. New York and its citizens are vibrantly evoked, from the “perfumes of hot bread and well-ground beans” on Smith’s morning meanderings, to the “African footmen with wigs powdered to the colour of icing-sugar” he sights in a church congregation.While the puzzle at the heart of the novel is not revealed until the very last pages, the plentiful and nimbly executed plot twists provide much satisfaction throughout. Part mystery, part homage to eighteenth century literature, this is an exuberant literary delight with all the readability of a page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017 | Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017 | Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017 | Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2016. The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:‘Pre-revolutionary New York, and a stranger arrives in town, where he finds a ferment of social jostling, politics and money that invites adventure. A great, unruly city is being born. Francis Spufford creates a world that is hypnotic and believable, brought to life in sparkling prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, and tells a gripping story that's full of tension and surprise, with characters who live on after the book is closed. His non-fiction writing has been much-admired. This first novel is an astonishing achievement because his novelist's voice is already enticing, rich and mature. An eighteenth-century treat.’ Costa judges' comment: “This spirited, wonderfully witty novel sets sparkling characters and a lively plot against a richly-realised backdrop.”
The Soviet Union was founded on a fairytale. It was built on 20th-century magic called 'the planned economy', which was going to gush forth an abundance of good things that the penny-pinching lands of capitalism could never match. And just for a little while, in the heady years of the late 1950s, the magic seemed to be working. Red Plenty is about that moment in history, and how it came, and how it went away; about the brief era when, under the rash leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union looked forward to a future of rich communists and envious capitalists, when Moscow would out-glitter Manhattan, every Lada would be better engineered than a Porsche and sputniks would lead the way to the stars. And it's about the scientists who did their genuinely brilliant best to make the dream come true, to give the tyranny its happy ending.
An irresistible collection of favorite writings from an author celebrated for his bravura style and sheer unpredictability Francis Spufford's welcome first volume of collected essays gathers an array of his compelling writings from the 1990s to the present. He makes use of a variety of encounters with particular places, writers, or books to address deeper questions relating to the complicated relationship between story-telling and truth-telling. How must a nonfiction writer imagine facts, vivifying them to bring them to life? How must a novelist create a dependable world of story, within which facts are, in fact, imaginary? And how does a religious faith felt strongly to be true, but not provably so, draw on both kinds of writerly imagination? Ranging freely across topics as diverse as the medieval legends of Cockaigne, the Christian apologetics of C. S. Lewis, and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, Spufford provides both fresh observations and thought-provoking insights. No less does he inspire an irresistible urge to turn the page and read on.
What would you find if you went back and re-read your favourite books from childhood? In The Child That Books Built Francis Spufford revisits all those childhood obsessions: fairy tales; Where the Wild Things Are; The Lord of the Rings; The Chronicles of Narnia; Little House on the Prairie; The Wind in the Willows; The Earthsea Trilogy and more. In these treasured tales Francis Spufford discovers both delight and sadness - the thrill as worlds of imagination opened up before him mixed with the memories of a boy who retreated into books when faced with a family tragedy.
When Captain Scott died in 1912 on his way back from the South Pole, his story became a myth embedded in the national imagination. Everyone remembers the doomed Captain Oates's last words: 'I'm just going outside, and I may be some time.' Francis Spufford's celebrated and prize-winning history shows how Scott's death was the culmination of a national enchantment with vast empty spaces, the beauty of untrodden snow, and perilous journeys to the end of the earth.
WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD WINNER OF THE RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE NAMED ';NOVEL OF THE YEAR' BY THE UK'S SUNDAY TIMES ';Nothing short of a masterpiece.' The Guardian The spectacular first novel from acclaimed nonfiction author Francis Spufford follows the adventures of a mysterious young man in mid-eighteenth century Manhattan, thirty years before the American Revolution.New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746. One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat arrives at a countinghouse door on Golden Hill Street: this is Mr. Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion shimmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge sum, and he won't explain why, or where he comes from, or what he is planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him? Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill is a story ';taut with twists and turns' that ';keeps you gripped until its tour-de-force conclusion' (The Times, London). Spufford paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later metropolitan self but already entirely a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in loveand find a world of trouble.
"e;Wie ein neu entdeckter Roman von Henry Fielding mit Bonusmaterial von Martin Scorsese."e; (The Times)1746 in einer kleinen englischen Kolonialstadt an der Spitze der Insel Manhattan: Neu-York wirkt auch Jahrzehnte nach der Eroberung durch die Briten immer noch recht hollndisch; die alteingesessenen Familien reden Englisch mit Akzent, am Hafen weht der Union Jack ber schmalen Fachwerkhusern, am anderen Ende der Stadt ist der Broad Way (vorher Breede Weg) auf Hhe der Wall Street durch ein Tor versperrt. Drauen hngen Skalps: Verbndete Indianerstmme haben sie franzsischen Soldaten abgenommen. Eines Tages steigt ein Brite namens Smith im Regen von einem aus London kommenden Segler. Der junge Mann scheint ber Geld zu verfgen, er trgt den Wechsel einer Londoner Bank mit sich. Schnell findet er Zugang zur Gesellschaft, wird er zu einer Berhmtheit in der Stadt. Leider auch bei den Falschen: Smith wird berfallen und ausgeraubt. Niemand darf von der prekren neuen Lage erfahren, das Schuldgefngnis droht. Und dann kommt Smiths Affre mit der Frau eines hohen Offiziers ans Licht. Ein Duell ist unumgnglich, und ausgerechnet sein bester Freund fordert ihn, ein exzellenter Fechter. Doch dann nimmt das Schicksal unseres Helden eine weitere berraschende Wendung - es wird nicht die letzte sein in diesem phantastischen, geistreichen, spannenden Wunderwerk von einem Roman.
New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan Island, 1746. One evening, a handsome young stranger off the boat from England pitches up to a counting house on Golden Hill Street, with a compelling proposition -- he has an order for a thousand pounds in his pocket that he wishes to cash. But can he be trusted? New York is a place where a young man with a fast tongue can reinvent himself, fall in love, and find trouble ...
With contributions from writers on both sides of the science/humanities divide, this is a collection of quirky and offbeat essays on technology, culture and forgotten or imaginary histories. Taking as its starting point Charles Babbage's 'Difference Engine', a machine imagined but never built, the book explores a range of subjects where the imagination and science and technology meet. Essays deal with such topics as the invention of the phonograph, the Victorian delight in automata and the Internet and the British. The result is a work which makes surprising connections and draws intriguing conclusions.
Erase una vez, hace muchos anos, un lejano pais entero, pueblo y dirigentes, campesinos y ciudadanos, vivio en un cuento de hadas. El truco magico se llamaba "e;economia planificada"e; y con el se iba a conseguir el milagro de la abundancia. Las cosechas, la produccion, los bienes y los servicios crecerian ano tras ano, con una eficiencia y una fiabilidad que nunca iba a conseguir el capitalismo. Y durante unos anos maravillosos, a finales de la decada de 1950, parecia posible. Este libro, mitad novela, mitad ensayo, mitad comedia de ideas, relata ese instante mgico en que la utopa del comunismo sovitico tom por asalto la realidad. Un instante breve, bajo el mandato de Nikita Jruchov, cuando Mosc iba a brillar ms que Manhattan, y los Lada tendran mejores motores que los Porsche. Es un relato nuevo, ambicioso como un Sputnik, encantador como la sonrisa de una azafata de Aeroflot, brillante como una copa de champn sovitico.
Estamos todos tan de vuelta de todo, tenemos tanta informacion, tantas opiniones, tanta ironia. No es facil escribir un ensayo que descoloque y escandalice, que presente una idea novedosa e inesperada. Spufford lo ha conseguido con el argumento probablemente menos popular de nuestro tiempo: ,Creo en Dios, para mi el cristianismo tiene sentido y estoy harto de que ustedes, los ateos y agnosticos, se crean mas listos que yo. Profesor de literatura, intelectual progresista, Spufford demuestra aqui que se puede ser creyente y vivir en el mundo del siglo XXI sin aguantar que nadie le venga a perdonar la vida. Ya les hemos contado el final, pero hganse un favor: pasen y lean. No se arrepentirn.
Unapologetic is a brief, witty, personal, sharp-tongued defence of Christianity, taking on Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great. Its argument is that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the bits of our lives advertising agencies prefer to ignore. It's a book for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, and for anyone who feels there is something indefinably wrong, literalistic, anti-imaginative and intolerant about the way the case for atheism is now being made. Fresh, provoking and unhampered by niceness, this is the long-awaited riposte to the smug emissaries of New Atheism.
Unapologetic is a brief, witty, personal, sharp-tongued defence of Christian belief, taking on Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great. But it isn't an argument that Christianity is true - because how could anyone know that (or indeed its opposite)? It's an argument that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the bits of our lives advertising agencies prefer to ignore. It's a book for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, and for anyone who feels there is something indefinably wrong, literalistic, anti-imaginative and intolerant about the way the atheist case is now being made. Fresh, provoking and unhampered by niceness, this is the long-awaited riposte to the smug emissaries of New Atheism.
The Antarctic: An Anthology features an international mix of classic first-person accounts of exploration, literary travelogues and works of cultural history, natural science and fiction about the South Pole. Contributors include British, American, Australian, Scandinavian, Japanese and Russian explorers such as Ernest Shackleton, Apsely Cherry-Garrard, Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd and Fouglas Mawson; novelists such as H. P. Lovecraft, Diane Ackerman, Jenny Diski and Kim Stanley Robinson; and popular travel writers such as Sara Wheeler. It is published alongside acompanion volume, The Arctic: An Anthology.
A brilliant, beautiful account of how British boffins triumphed across the decades in creating everything from computer games to Martian landers. The book contains chapters on the Beagle II, Elite - the 80s computer game, the Blue Streak missile, Concorde, mobile phone technology and the Human Genome Project, among others. Britain is the only country in the world to have cancelled its space programme just as it put its first rocket into orbit. Starting with this forgotten episode, 'Backroom Boys' tells the bittersweet story of how one country lost its industrial tradition and got back something else. Sad, inspiring, funny and ultimately triumphant, it follows the technologists whose work kept Concorde flying, created the computer game, conquered the mobile-phone business, saved the human genome for the human race - and who now are sending the Beagle 2 probe to burrow in the cinnamon sands of Mars. 'Backroom Boys' is a vivid love-letter to quiet men in pullovers, to those whose imaginings take shape not in words but in mild steel and carbon fibre and lines of code. Above all, it is a celebration of big dreams achieved with slender means.
Children's books - from Narnia to The Hobbit - are celebrated in this enlightened examination of the joys of childhood reading. Fairy tales and Where the Wild Things Are, The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books, Little House on the Prairie and The Earthsea Trilogy. What would you find if you went back and re-read your favourite books from childhood? Francis Spufford discovers both delight and sadness, in this widely celebrated memoir of a boy who retreats into books, faced with a tragedy in his family. 'A beautifully composed and wholly original memoir, sounding the classics of children's literature.' David Sexton, Evening Standard 'Exuberant and serious, funny and sophisticated, this memoir of reading and childhood is a delight.' Andrea Ashworth