Giles Foden


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Photograph: with permission of The Guardian



Giles Foden was born in Warwickshire in 1967 and grew up partly in Africa. He has been an assistant editor of The Times Literary Supplement and deputy literary editor of The Guardian. His first novel, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, won the 1998 Whitbread First Novel Award, a Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask prize and the Winifred Holtby Memorial Award. It was made into a feature film, starring the American actor Forest Whittaker (who won an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance) as Idi Amin, and directed by Kevin McDonald. Foden's second novel, LADYSMITH, and his third, ZANZIBAR, spent several weeks on the best-seller lists.

Giles Foden's non-fiction book, MIMI AND TOUTOU GO FORTH, which describes a bizarre naval battle on Lake Tanganyika in 1915 between British and German warships, was published to great acclaim in the autumn of 2004 and was a Radio 4 Book of the Week.

Giles Foden is now a professor at the creative writing department of the University of East Anglia. His latest novel, TURBULENCE, was published on 6th June 2009, the 65th anniversary of D-Day.


Publication DetailsNotes

UK: Faber; US: Knopf; German: Aufbau

In the early spring of 1944 a young weather forecaster, Henry Meadows, is summoned by his superior and told he is being posted to Scotland. The big push towards D-Day is underway, and the weather will be a vital factor in the plans of the Allied forces. But why Scotland, when Meadows' colleagues are all working on the south coast with the Americans? Meadows is told he must find and get to know a famous forecaster, Wallace Ryman, who has turned pacifist and will have nothing to do with the war effort. Ryman is known to be in possession of a theory which could have a crucial impact on the forecasting for D-Day, but which he will not impart. Meadows must ingratiate himself with Ryman, must spy on him.

Thus begins Giles Foden's ambitious new novel, in which the weather is a great unfolding drama, one which will sweep Meadows up and then hurl him down again. Will he be able to get the information his superior so urgently wants, and make the crucial contribution he dreams of making to the war? The tide of events is about to turn, and suddenly Henry Meadows is at the centre of them.


UK: Faber; Dutch: Prometheus (reverted); French: l’Olivier (reverted); German Aufbau; Greek:Polis; Japanese: Shinchosha (reverte

What would it be like to become Idi Amin's personal physician? Giles Foden's best-selling thriller is the story of a young Scottish doctor drawn into the heart of the Ugandan dictator's surreal and brutal regime. Privy to Amin's thoughts and ambitions, he is both fascinated and appalled. As Uganda plunges into civil chaos he realises action is imperative - but which way should he jump?

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND was made into a feature film, starring the American actor Forest Whittaker (who won an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance) and directed by Kevin McDonald.


UK: Faber; Dutch: De Bezige Bij; German: Aufbau

Nick Karolides is a marine biologist working on coral reef protection on Zanzibar, the island of slaves, sultans and spices that for centuries has signified both the exotic and the malevolent. Soon he meets Miranda Powers, an American who works in the US embassy in Dar-es-Salaam. Nick and Miranda quickly find themselves embroiled in violent events: Nick is kidnapped by Arab terrorists and Miranda lives through the savage bombing of her embassy. What connection does CIA veteran Jack Queller, and more intriguingly, Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, have with both these events? In ZANZIBAR, the prize-winning author Giles Foden has drawn on current events in order to create a jagged, apocalyptic tale of postmodern life in all its fiendish complexity and provisional morality. Written before the events of September 11th, this is a remarkably prescient novel that poses difficult questions about the new world order.


Publication DetailsNotes

UK: Michael Joseph; US: Knopf; (Translation: Penguin)

At the start of the First World War, German warships controlled Lake Tanganyika in central Africa. In 1915 the British dispatched an unlikely convoy of two motor gunboats, which were sailed to Cape Town and thence taken by train and overland across the wilds of the Congo to the shores of the lake. The expedition was led by a remarkable eccentric named Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, who smoked a pipe and wore a skirt throughout. Spicer-Simson succeeded in sinking two small German boats. But there was a surprise in store for him, a large warship called the Graf von Gotzen that he did not know even existed.

In his first nonfiction book, the prize-winning novelist Giles Foden brings his eye for improbable stories and his vivid scene-setting to a most extraordinary tale.