Samantha Harvey

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Samantha Harvey was born in England in 1975. She has lived in Ireland, New Zealand and Japan, writing, travelling and teaching, and in recent years has co-founded an environmental charity alongside her novel writing. She has a masters degree in Philosophy and completed with distinction the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA course in 2005. THE WILDERNESS was her acclaimed first novel, which won the Betty Trask Prize and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Guardian First Book Award. Her second novel, ALL IS SONG, was published by Jonathan Cape in January 2012 to excellent reviews. Her third novel, DEAR THIEF , was published in 2014 by Jonathan Cape, and Ecco/Harper Collins in the US. It was longlisted for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and has since been shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize 2015. 

Her new novel, THE WESTERN WIND, will be published by Jonathan Cape in March 2018. 

Praise for THE WESTERN WIND (2018): 

'The Western Wind is an extraordinary, wise, wild and beautiful book - a thrilling mystery story and a lyrical enquiry into ideas of certainty and belief. Surprising, richly imagined, gloriously strange - the best kind of fiction.' Joanna Kavenna

Praise for DEAR THIEF (2014): 

'Dear Thief is a novel of profound beauty. I'll leave it at that' Michael Cunningham 

'A glorious, sensuous, grown-up novel, intelligent and passionate' Tessa Hadley

‘Beautiful… a novel with no interest in conformity. Harvey’s book is propelled not by the usual structures of novel writing but by the quality of its author’s mind, by the luminousness of her prose, and by an ardent innocence of speculation that is rare in contemporary fiction… It is a strange and exhilarating journey, unlike anything I have recently encountered' James Wood, New Yorker 

‘One of the most beguiling novels of the year… [Harvey] is this generation’s Virginia Woolf’ Telegraph 

‘[A] meditative portrait of love, ageing and betrayal… it captures a heady and elegiac combination of eroticism and loss, loathing and rapture… so intimate, so honest, so raw, Dear Thief provokes you to think about life, and Life, and your own life, the people in it as well as the ghosts' Guardian 

Praise for ALL IS SONG (2012):

'Harvey's dense, unhurried prose is rich in characterisation and intellectual reasoning... This beautifully written composition does that rare thing, of provoking free thought while scrutinising the far-reaching repercussions of such a rebellious activity' Independent

'Harvey's prose is graceful and unhurried, full of sharp observation and moments of subtly understated pathos' Guardian

'Harvey resists the easy and the obvious. The result is a novel of both depth and defiance' Observer

Praise for THE WILDERNESS (2010):

'Harvey uses her precise and unostentatious style to full effect' TLS

'[A] piece of literature seamlessly woven from extremely controlled prose, and peppered with vivid images that are recalled with haiku-like clarity' Observer

'This looping personal history has a mesmerising intensity' Telegraph

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
2017

Jonathan Cape

Oakham, near Bruton, is a tiny village by a big river without a bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found. Was it murder, or suicide, or an accident? The whole story is relayed by the village priest, John Reve, who in his role as confessor is privy to a lot of information that others have not. But will he be able to explain what happened to the victim, Tom Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?
Reve is an extraordinary creation, a patient shepherd to his wayward flock, and through his words Harvey creates a medieval world that is in no way alien but almost tangible in its immediacy. His language is modern, but steeped in medieval culture and beliefs.
This is Samantha Harvey’s fourth novel. The previous three appeared on countless prize lists, from the Women’s Prize to the Man Booker. The Western Wind will surely join them.

2014

Jonathan Cape

In the middle of a winter's night, a woman wraps herself in a blanket, picks up a pen and starts writing to an estranged friend. In answer to a question you asked a long time ago, she writes, and so begins a letter that calls up a shared past both women have preferred to forget.

Without knowing if her friend, Butterfly, is even alive or dead, she writes night after night - a letter of friendship that turns into something more revealing and recriminating. By turns a belated outlet of rage, an act of self-defence, and an offering of forgiveness, the letter revisits a betrayal that happened a decade and a half before, and dissects what is left of a friendship caught between the forces of hatred and love. Longlisted for the Fiction Uncovered Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize 2015.

2012

Jonathan Cape

Set against the backdrop of growing national unrest, tabloid frenzies and an escalating fuel crisis, All Is Song is a novel about filial and moral duty, and about the choice of questioning above conforming. It is a work of remarkable perception, intensity and resonance from one of Britain’s most promising young writers.

2010

Jonathan Cape

This astonishing debut novel depicts the desperate struggle of Jake, an Alzheimer''s sufferer, to piece together his few remaining memories. He has many important questions left to answer, but as the disease takes hold and his identity slips away, the concrete facts of his past life become increasingly remote. Can anything be salvaged, in any form, from his deteriorating mind?

Winner of the Betty Trask Prize. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Shortlisted for the Orange Prize and Guardian First Book Award.