Brian Catling

Writer

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Books

Books

Brian Catling's international reputation had been firmly established as a visual and performance artist and poet. Then a great tide of narrative fiction overcame him. The first wave to hit was The VORRH; the prime novel in an epic trilogy that he thought was 'obscure Surrelism' until Alan Moore proclaimed it to be a phosphorescent masterpiece and "one of the most original and stunning works of fantasy that it has ever been my privilege to read".

THE VORRH was published by Random House US and Hodder and Stoughton in the UK in 2015 to great acclaim. The second of the trilogy, THE ERSTWHILE, was published in 2017 and the final book, THE CLOVEN, in 2018. 

 

Brian has also won a Cholmondeley award for his poetry.

Brian Catling was born in London and is Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. His website is : briancatling.net

 

Praise for THE VORRH;

“I am glad to have the book as a companion on my own dark quest.” —Tom Waits

"A dazzling display of storytelling. . . . Readers who enjoy the genre-blending novels of Felix Gilman (The Half-Made World, 2010) and David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks, 2014)—and are comfortable with the violence of Jesse Bullington’s The Enterprise of Death (2011)—will find themselves right at home here."-- Booklist

"Brian Catling is simply a genius. His writing is so extraordinary it hurts, it makes me realize how little imagination I have." —Terry Gilliam

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes

THE VORRH

2015

Random House (US)/Hodder and Stoughton (UK)

In the tradition of China Miéville, Michael Moorcock and Alasdair Gray, B. Catling's The Vorrh is literary dark fantasy which wilfully ignores boundaries, crossing over into surrealism, magic-realism, horror and steampunk.
In B. Catling's twisting, poetic narrative, Bakelite robots lie broken - their hard shells cracked by human desire - and an inquisitive Cyclops waits for his keeper and guardian, growing in all directions. Beyond the colonial city of Essenwald lies the Vorrh, the forest which sucks souls and wipes minds. There, a writer heads out on a giddy mission to experience otherness, fallen angels observe humanity from afar, and two hunters - one carrying a bow carved from his lover, the other a charmed Lee-Enfield rifle - fight to the end.
Thousands of miles away, famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge attempts to capture the ultimate truth, as rifle heiress Sarah Winchester erects a house to protect her from the spirits of her gun's victims.

THE ERSTWHILE

2017

Random House (US)/Hodder and Stoughton (UK)

In London and Germany, strange beings are reanimating themselves. They are the Erstwhile, the angels that failed to protect the Tree of Knowledge, and their reawakening will have major consequences. In Africa, the colonial town of Essenwald has fallen into disarray because the timber workforce has disappeared into the Vorrh. Now a team of specialists are dispatched to find them. Led by Ishmael, the former cyclops, they enter the forest, but the Vorrh will not give them back so easily. To make matters worse, an ancient guardian of the forest has plans for Ishmael and his crew. Meanwhile a child of mixed race has been found abandoned in a remote cottage. Her origins are unknown, but she has powers beyond her own understanding. Conflict is coming, as the old and new, human and inhuman are set on a collision course. Once again blending the real and the imagined, The Erstwhile brings historical figures such as William Blake and places such as the Bedlam Asylum, as well as ingenious creations such as The Kin (a family of robots) together to create unforgettable novel of births and burials, excavations and disappearances.

“Brian Catling’s The Erstwhile, like the work of Mervyn Peake, is outside genre. The stand-alone centre novel in a three-decker, it is even better than The Vorrh, the volume that preceded it. . . . Again we meet a variety of wonderful, often bizarre characters. . . .The plot is complex, monumental, engrossing and crammed with original images. If you like Peake’s Titus Groan, Catling’s splendid novel is probably for you.” —Michael Moorcock, The New Statesman

THE CLOVEN

2018

Random House (US)/ Hodder & Stoughton (UK)

n the stunning conclusion to this endlessly imaginative saga, the young Afrikaner socialite Cyrena Lohr is mourning the death of her lover, the cyclops Ishmael, when she rekindles a relationship with famed naturalist Eugène Marais. Before departing down his own dark path, Marais presents her with a gift: an object of great power that grants her visions of a new world. Meanwhile, the threat of Germany’s Blitz looms over London, and only Nicholas the Erstwhile senses the danger to come. Will he be able to save the man who saved him? And as Nazi forces descend upon Africa, will the Vorrh finally succeed in enacting its revenge against those who have invaded and defiled it? The Cloven is a book of battles and betrayals, in which Catling’s incredible creations all fulfill their destinies and lead us to an epic conflagration with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.

“A surrealistic and entertaining amalgamation of religion, philosophy, art, and nature. . . . Catling draws a compelling picture of man versus nature in an impressive story of good and evil, environmentalism, and the will of man to conquer all. . . . Visceral, violent, and literary.” —Booklist