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Like a Fiery Elephant

The Story of B.S. Johnson

Jonathan Coe

B. S. Johnson was one of the best-known young novelists in Britain in the 1960s and 70s. He gained notoriety for his forthright views on the future of the novel and for his idiosyncratic ways of putting them into practice. His innovations included a book with holes cut through the pages, and a novel published in a box so that its unbound chapters could be read in any order. But in November 1973 Johnson's lifelong depression got the better of him, and he was found dead at his north London home. He had taken his own life at the age of forty. Jonathan Coe's long-awaited biography is based upon unique access to the vast collection of papers Johnson left behind, and upon dozens of interviews with those who knew him best.

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Hardcover 486 pages
What the judges said

“He has brought marvellously to life not only B.S. Johnson - a brilliant and difficult man who wrote only seven novels – but the grim side of struggling to succeed in literary London in the Sixties”

About the author

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. An award-winning novelist, biographer and critic, his novels include What a Carve Up! which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, The House of Sleep which won the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Award and The Closed Circle. He was recently made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Jonathan Coe lives in London.