Patricia Duncker is the author of Hallucinating Foucault (winner of the Dillons First Fiction Award and the McKitterick Prize in 1996), The Deadly Space Between, James Miranda Barry and Miss Webster and Chérif (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2007). She has written two books of short fiction, Monsieur Shoushana's Lemon Trees (shortlisted for the Macmillan Silver Pen Award in 1997) and Seven Tales of Sex and Death, and a collection of essays on writing and contemporary literature, Writing on the Wall. In 2010 she published The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge (shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2010 and the Green Carnation Prize 2011). Her most recent novel, the critically acclaimed Sophie and the Sibyl: A Victorian Romance (2015), was also shortlisted for the Green Carnation Award 2015.

Three Favourite Reads of 2023

Patricia was invited to compile her best books from the last year for the book recommendation website

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Marlon James

“Louise Simpson the poet won the Pulitzer. Michelle Cliff, Olive Senior, Mervyn Morris, Patricia Powell, Patricia Duncker; all of these writers have written fantastic and brilliant novels. Patricia Duncker’s Hallucinating Foucault is taught in nearly every gender studies class. We’ve always had writers who’ve had a big influence on American writers, even if they’re not well-known. They are all brilliant and they all have books that deserve more readers.” 

Read the Marlon James interview in The Chimes newspaper

Three Good Books 

Elizabeth Lowry: The Chosen (riverrun, 2022)

James Cahill: Tiepolo Blue (Sceptre, 2022)

Percival Everett: The Trees (Influx Press, 2022)

In the spring and early summer of 2022 I read three good books. These books, all new writing, adult fiction, published within a few months of each other, and written with intelligence and ambition, raised my spirits. In recent years, it has been hard to find good new books that meet my somewhat exacting criteria. 

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Adventures in Bestsellerland

Well, if vast sales were a guarantee of quality, John Grisham would be The Big One. I picked up The Judge’s List (2021) on a cross-channel ferry and noted the sales puff for all his works on the back: 350 million copies sold, translated into 45 languages, 10 blockbuster Hollywood film adaptations. I had never read a book by Grisham in my life, but I like to live dangerously. Here is the story of how I came to read a serial killer thriller, and what happened when I did. 

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