The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2011

First time novelist Patrick McGuinness is one of the Man Booker dozen on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for fiction announced today.  Based in Caernarfon, Patrick’s novel The Last 100 Days is published by independent literary publisher Seren, based in Bridgend.

“We are absolutely delighted for Patrick,” said Seren fiction editor Penny Thomas. “This is a stunning debut novel and we are so pleased that it has been recognised by the Man Booker judges. It’s also excellent news for a small independent press such as Seren. We think we’re the first Welsh publisher to be on the Man Booker longlist.’

Patrick McGuinness said: “I’m delighted and surprised. Communist bloc regime change fiction is certainly a niche market but perhaps – with all that has been going on in the world lately – it has a topicality I didn’t expect when I wrote a novel about my own experience in Ceasescu’s Romania.”

The novel, a literary spy thriller and novel of place, is set in 1989 Bucharest, in the last days of Ceasescu and creates a world of intensity and ravaged beauty as the demolition squads race to destroy the old city and replace it with a sinister Stalinist Legoland. Into this paranoia walks a young English student with a damaged past and an uncertain future to take up a job he never applied for and whose duties are never made clear. He finds dissidents, party apparatchiks, black-marketeers, diplomats, spies and ordinary Romanians, all watching each other as Europe’s most paranoid regime plays out its bloody endgame.

Patrick McGuinness is also a poet and Professor or Literature at Oxford University. He lived in Romania in the years leading up to the revolution.

Patrick McGuinness was born in Tunisia in 1968 and lived in Bucharest in the years leading up to the Romanian revolution. He is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Oxford University and a Fellow of St Anne’s College where he has taught since 1998. He now lives between Oxford and North West Wales. His poetry collections include The Canals of Mars (2004) and Jilted City (2010) which has been just been long-listed for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2011 and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Patrick has also won an Eric Gregory Award, the American Poetry Foundations Levinson Prize and the Poetry Business Prize for his poetry, whilst his translation of Mallarmé’s For Anatole’s Tomb, was the Poetry Book Society’s Translation Choice..

Patrick frequently writes and presents for radio: some of his memorable pieces include A Short History of Stupidity and The Art of Laziness for BBC Radio 3 and he’s also discussed poetry, French culture and his own work as a poet and translator on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves and BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. Patrick is also a frequent contributor to the TLS, and The London Review of Books and reads and speaks at literary festivals in the UK, US, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.

Seren, which celebrates its thirtieth birthday this year, began life in the granny annexe of poet Dannie Abse’s house in Ogmore by Sea. Over the years the small independent Bridgend literary publisher has had many notable successes, including winning a Costa Award, several Forward Prizes and Wales Book of the Years, and several shortlistings for the TS Eliot Prize and Whitbread Prize. In the last few weeks of an amazing 2011 Seren has won the UK-wide Egde Hill short story prize with the collection Touch, by Graham Mort and has had two poets – Nerys Williams and Judy Brown – shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

..engrossing debut novel….I defy anyone not to revel in 350-odd pages..”  — Time Out Magazine

Book of the Month – Buzz Magazine (June 2011)

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