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Randall by Jonathan Gibbs

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Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Randall is a satirical alternative history of the heady years of Cool Britannia and the emergence of the Young British Artists. It asks what would have happened if Damien Hirst had never arrived? If someone else had become the most notorious and influential young British artist?


Randall by Jonathan Gibbs

Early on in this bravura debut we are informed that Hirst was hit and killed by a train in 1989 ("apparently when drunk") – and the focus of everyone's attention falls instead on Randall. Randall – a big, lumbering ape of a man – is a genius of language as much as art, supremely able to baffle, bemuse and amuse the press, public and all around him. He makes a fortune, causes chaos, changes the art world – the whole world – and provides brilliant quips every step of the way: "There's only two things you can do with art: make it, and buy it. Everything else – talking about it, thinking about it, selling it, looking at it – either comes under one of those two, or doesn't count."

As well as providing a sharp, smart commentary on art and capitalism, there's a soft beating heart to Randall. Above everything else, this is a story of love and friendship and loss, as seen through the eyes of Randall's sidekick, Vincent – a narrator very much in the traditional of Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby or Charles Ryder of Brideshead Revisited. It is touching as well as funny, humane as well as wonderfully cruel. It is a book we expect to get both literary acclaim and notoriety. It will kick ass.


Praise for Randall:

'Gibbs has produced the sort of novel you pray for as a reviewer – one that you can actually enjoy and not have to search through desperately in order to find something to praise. -- Tibor Fischer, The Guardian

'Gibbs’s novel is more than mischief: as with all the best lampoons, it dissects things that really matter and have gone awry' -- Toby Lichtig, The Telegraph

'By the end – with a shift in point of view to Justine, as she and Vincent head for an inevitably messy rapprochement – you feel Gibbs has worked a double shift, disguising a well-turned tale of family secrecy as an acerbic essay on recent cultural history without short-changing the demands of either form.' -- Anthony Cummins, The Observer

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

19th June 2014


Jonathan Gibbs

More books by Jonathan Gibbs
Author 'Like for Like'


Galley Beggar Press


324 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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