Monday, 27 June 2011

Book of the Week and Bibliography - Andrew Miller, Pure

Pure is the sixth novel from Andrew Miller, and is set in 18th century Paris around a cemetery. Miller is a good example of a novelist who has attracted considerable critical acclaim and success, including winning the IMPAC prize, but probably without reaching a huge readership. I have enjoyed several of his previous books, all of which can still be picked up very cheaply as first editions.

Miller was born in 1960 in Bristol, and has lived and worked in several countries, including Spain, France, Holland and Japan. He studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and finished a Ph.D. in Critical and Creative Writing at Lancaster University in 1995. His first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published in 1997. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Italian Grinzane Cavour Prize. Set during the eighteenth century, it tells the story of surgeon James Dyer and his extraordinary inability to feel pain. It was followed by Casanova (1998), a fictional portrait of the infamous libertine and writer. Both novels are currently being adapted for film. His next novel, Oxygen (2001), set in England in 1997, was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award. The book narrates two loosely connected narratives, those of a dying mother attended by her two sons and a Hungarian playwright living in Paris. The Optimists (2005), is the tale of a photojournalist who returns to Britain from Africa where he was involved in reporting on an atrocity, and One Morning Like a Bird in 2008. Pure is available now.

“A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting priests. A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love...A year unlike any other he has lived. Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it. At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.”


Ingenious Pain Sceptre, 1997. Under £15.
Casanova Sceptre, 1998. Under£15.
Oxygen Sceptre, 2001. Under £10.
The Optimists Sceptre, 2005. Under £10.
One Morning Like a Bird Sceptre, 2008. Under £15.
Pure, Sceptre, 2011.

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