I. J. Kay

Writer - Fiction

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Photograph: John Meadows


Associate: Seren Adams


I.J. Kay was born in Suffolk in 1961. She lives in Bristol and in The Gambia, West Africa, but favours a boat on which she writes and travels the waterways of England. In 2006 she took an MA (Creative Writing) with distinction from Bath Spa University. Her debut novel, MOUTAINS OF THE MOON, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2012 and won the Author's Club Best First Novel Award 2013. She is currently working on a second novel, provisionally called THE STAYING OF CHRISTIE CRAWFORD.



'Kay has created a narrative voice that is compelling, sympathetic and always interesting... [she] writes with clarity and ease; the sheer lucidity is irresistible...  Few 350-page, first-person novels - even fewer contemporary British novels - are unputdownable. This is one of them' Irish Times  

'She has a perfect instinct for where to be elliptical and where precise. If the reader becomes disoriented, it is always intentional, mirroring the narrator's own physical and mental disorientation... Mountains of the Moon does everything that novels can do, and does them in a very original way' Guardian

'In spite of the desperate subject matter it is above all a triumphant, uplifting expression of an individual's capacity to transcend the brutality and ugliness of everyday life and create something unique and magnificent... It's a wonderful voice: funny and fragile, innocent, knowing, tender and tough. I have never encountered another like it... There is nothing simplistic about this bold, unsettling, uplifting novel. Read it. Then read it again' Observer

'Mountains of the Moon is a riveting novel, both disturbing and entertaining, with twisted low-life characters rivalling any created by Martin Amis or Nicola Barker' Spectator Book Club




Publication DetailsNotes


A woman in her thirties is released from prison, equipped with a new name and not much else. As she tries to fall on her feet again, we learn about who she is and what got her there in the first place. The story that unfolds, slowly, from different angles, is the electrifying account of somebody living outside society, without any safety net. It’s the story of a broken life that, against all the odds, amounts to something utterly beautiful.