Sunday, 20 May 2012

Book of the Week - Adam Thorpe, Flight

Adam Thorpe is an unusually versatile writer, with success as a poet, dramatist and novelist in a number of different genres. There is something refreshing about the breadth of his scope, but it has probably worked against him at times when it comes to the main literary prizes. Flight is his tenth novel and is described as a literary thriller, a class of book which has achieved a modicum of recognition by the Booker Prize judges over the last couple of years (for instance, Child 44 and Snowdrops). Reviews for Thorpe’s novels have generally been good, and this one is no exception. He is due success in one of the major literary prizes – for a thriller to win would be a significant surprise, but this is sure to be a good read.

Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. He currently lives in France with his wife and three children.

“Bob Winrush used to fly passengers, then worked for years as a 'freight dog', flying consignments of goods and sometimes people to all the corners of the world - including bush-strips in war zones: 'real flying,' as he called it. Until, one day, he walked away from a deal that didn't smell right - something a freight dog should never do. Now working as a private pilot for an Emirate prince in Dubai, he finds that moment of refusal catching up with him. Caught between those who want to find out more and those who want to cover their traces, he becomes a marked man, and flees to a remote Scottish island. Pursued by both armed assassins and a ruinous, bitter divorce, he struggles to re-fashion himself in this barren, beautiful place, taking on another identity. But back in the world of smuggled AK-47s and heroin, the stakes are rising. Despite the presence of Judith, the alluring environmentalist, memories of his uglier flights return to haunt him. Even in the furthest Hebrides his past is with him, and the predators are closing in. Adam Thorpe's tenth novel is an extraordinary amalgam: a vertiginous, page-turning thriller and a masterful work of literary fiction. Fast, funny and very frightening, Flight shows a new facet of this most brilliant of writers.”

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