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Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, Lincolnshire. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.
Author photo © Alix Extence
A lovely, heartfelt, oh so readable and occasionally quirky story containing huge empathy and thoughtfulness. Two teenagers, refugees without their parents, set off from Syria in the hopes of reaching the UK. I am a huge fan of Gavin Extence, as he has the ability to write with an incredibly light touch while exploring hugely provocative topics. His books often contain a waft of magic, not hocus pocus exactly, but something that makes you stop and think. The story here is told by 19-year-old Zain, older brother to 14-year-old Mohammed, and we meet them as they begin the swim from Turkey to Greece. Simply told, the words hit my thoughts with hammer-hard intensity, and yet there were smiles on hand too. There is a gentle compassion to be found in Zain, and as I read, I took him, and his football-loving brother to my heart. All I will say about the third absolutely fabulous character in this tale is that I won’t forget him! ‘The End of Time’ doesn’t preach, it lets you discover thoughts and feelings for yourself, it just exists, as it is, as the most wonderfully compelling and beautiful story. I have chosen ‘The End of Time’ as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month - it has a massive tick in the 'fabulous read' box from me. Gavin Extence is our author in the picture for July 2019, do take a look at the photos he chose in answer to our questions. Read our Putting Authors in the Picture blog post with Gavin.
A must read if ever there was one, this is just stunning. A simple premise, yet it slams with impact, 32 year old banker Gabriel has a malignant brain tumour and six months left to live. As time ticks by Gabriel finds himself exploring entirely new thoughts and feelings… empathy has finally arrived in his life. A perfectly sharp balance is maintained between hard hitting provocative and wickedly amusing observations. Pointedly sliding through global problems and issues, this is a still a very personal, compassionate and intimate read. Gavin Extence is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, he constantly surprises, challenges and stimulates with his barbed, so beautifully readable books. I sat up reading for most of the night, and even when I had turned the last page, I didn't want to put it down. ‘The Empathy Problem’ is a very special novel indeed, one to remember, to keep forever, to read again, and again, and again. ~ Liz Robinson Perfect for fans of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project and Gavin Extence's debut novel THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS, comes a wild and witty, searing and true novel about life's ups and downs.
A surprisingly intimate and compelling read, and one that exposes an emotionally challenging and often hidden world. The diverting way in which the author introduces Abby, suggests that something is essentially different, but at the same time she feels extraordinarily real…not perfect, just some sort of normal. You feel encouraged to invest in Abby, to get to know her, both on the surface as you witness her every day life and occasional escapades but also inside, where you start to explore the motion of her mind. This is clever writing, at times softly blurred around the edges, sometimes amusingly engaging, while at others howling and penetrating in it’s intensity. Prepare to like Abby, to smile and laugh with her, to feel perplexed, to empathise and want to hug her, prepare to be left thoroughly captivated in this thought provoking and stimulating novel.~ Liz Robinson Click here to see The Universe Versus Alex Woods by the same author.
One of our Books of the Year 2013. We meet a 17-year old Alex as he is stopped by customs at Dover with a glove compartment full of marijuana and Mr Peterson's urn of ashes on the passenger seat beside him. I'm hooked. [We then go back to the start of that unlikely friendship when a bullied 12-year Alex, escaping his tormenters, bursts into Mr Peterson's garden and appears to destroy his greenhouse. As penance his mother makes young Alex help Mr Peterson and so a wonderful friendship emerges, based initially around an introduction to Kurt Vonnegut.] Alex has had a very strange childhood and seems to collect disasters but in his deadpan narrative relates much of the extraordinary incidents of his young years as nothing to get too excited about. But I did. I got excited all the way through. Couldn't leave the book alone and certainly dub it one of my all time favourites. A wonderful tale. The Lovereading view... Sad, funny, entertaining and profound The Universe versus Alex Woods is a tale of an unexpected friendship, an unlikely hero and an improbable journey which we join as Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana and an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat. This debut which treads the fine line between light and dark, laughter and tears has already been snapped up by lots of international publishers and could be the next ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. Click here to read Alex's recommended reads.
Beneath the stars, on a stony beach, stand two teenage brothers. They are wearing lifejackets that are too big for them and their most precious belongings are sealed in waterproof bags tucked inside the rucksacks on their backs. Turkey is behind them and Europe lies ahead, a dark, desperate swim away. They don't know what will come next, but they're about to meet a man who does. He calls himself Jesus, the Messiah. He is barefoot, dishevelled and smells strongly of alcohol. And he doesn't believe in chance meetings. He believes he has information about the future - information that will change three lives forever . . . Praise for Gavin Extence: 'Extence has such a dry, witty style of writing' Marie Claire 'Rich, insightful, darkly serious yet also upliftingly funny' Review of THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK, Jasper Fforde 'Delightful, written in a warm, engaging voice . . . It's so good it 'll leave you wanting to change your own life' Review of THE EMPATHY PROBLEM, Independent
A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn't had the easiest childhood. But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing ...Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.