Mick Jackson

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Mick Jackson

Books

Associate: Seren Adams

Books

Mick Jackson was born in Lancashire. He has written and directed several short films. His first novel, THE UNDERGROUND MAN (about which The Times said, ‘soaked through with originality and expertly written’), was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize and Whitbread First Novel Prize, and won the Royal Society of Authors First Novel Award. His second novel, FIVE BOYS, was published by Faber in 2001. Mick's first full-length television drama, ROMAN ROAD (written under his given name, Kirkham Jackson), starring Alan Davies, John Gordon Sinclair and Anna Chancellor, was broadcast on ITV1 on New Year's Eve 2004. A collection of fable-like stories, TEN SORRY TALES, was published by Faber in July 2005. Five of these tales were read on Radio 3 by actors including Alan Bennett and Miriam Margolies. In 2009 Faber published BEARS OF ENGLAND, which like TEN SORRY TALES is illustrated by David Roberts, followed by THE WIDOW'S TALE, a novel, in 2011. Also in 2011, Mick Jackson was appointed writer-in-residence at the Science Museum in London. He lives in Brighton with his wife and son.

His new novel, YUKI CHAN IN BRONTË COUNTRY, was published by Faber in January 2016.

Praise for YUKI CHAN IN BRONTË COUNTRY (2016)

'[A] work of perishing charm... this is a far sadder book than the comedic elements might have suggested. The more eclectic elements - spiritual photography, the science of snowflakes, diving virtuosi - are beautifully aligned by making links to historical Japanese pioneers and enthusiasts... That a whimsical comedy can transmute into an elegiac exercise in the futility of pursuing catharsis is no small achievement. That it is both funny and plangent is another' Independent

'[An] unconventional, highly readable, often very funny and strangely touching novel. Since winning the Author's Club Best First Novel prize with The Underground Man (1997), Jackson's work has been increasingly characterised by a perceptive humanity, laced with sly wit and presented with irresistible dynamism, and this is no exception... It's the kind of book you can't stop reading but don't want to finish, because then brave little Yuki will go back to Japan and you might never meet her again' Financial Times 

'The book strikes out in unusual directions and you can't really anticipate where you are going to be taken, page by page. Yukiko is given to stray fancies, charming memories, affecting visualisations that defiantly linger in your mind after you've read them... this novel had an air of late period Brautigan about it [which] is very close to being the highest praise indeed' Bookmunch

'All novelists want their imaginations to travel, but few send them off as far as Jackson... It is brave for a middle-aged male Lancastrian to put himself into the mind of a young Japanese woman, and to bring such disparate elements as clairvoyance, cultural difference and the Brontës together in a story... they do make for an enjoyable adventure in Brontëland and a novel that is beguilingly odd' Guardian

'There are some lovely ideas in Mick Jackson's latest novel, befitting the mercurial, fretful nature of its narrator' Mail on Sunday

'The power of landscape, the loneliness of grief and the impossibility of ever knowing another life, however close we try to get to it, are powerful themes' Daily Mail

'The psychic detective story soon becomes an engrossing one of a motherless young girl finding her way in the world and dealing with her grief' Big Issue North

'The most winning thing about Yuki Chan in Brontë Country is Yuki herself. She is charming, hilarious, independent and complex... Mick Jackson’s novel is beautifully written and entirely unique, with a heroine who will not be soon forgotten. I am going to read this book again. And again. And again…' WildeOnMySide

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes

JUNIOR SCIENCE

2011

World All Languages: Faber

Published as an ebook original to tie in with Mick Jackson's appointment as the first writer-in-residence at the Science Museum, JUNIOR SCIENCE comprises three stories - 'Zero Gravity', 'The Answering Machine', and 'Back to School'. Originally commissioned by BBC Radio 4, they were broadcast in November 2011. Full of wonder, pathos and mystery, these stories are marked by Jackson's unique sensibility, exploring the way children start to become aware of the world around them.

YUKI CHAN IN BRONTE COUNTRY

2016

Faber and Faber

'They both stop and stare for a moment. Yuki feels she's spent about half her adult life thinking about snow, but when it starts, even now, it's always arresting, bewildering. Each snowflake skating along some invisible plane. Always circuitous, as if looking for the best place to land...'

Yukiko tragically lost her mother ten years ago. After visiting her sister in London, she goes on the run, and heads for Haworth, West Yorkshire, the last place her mother visited before her death.

Against a cold, winter, Yorkshire landscape, Yuki has to tackle the mystery of her mother's death, her burgeoning friendship with a local girl, the allure of the Brontes and her own sister's wrath.

THE WIDOW'S TALE

2010

World English Language: Faber; Danish: Rosenkilde;Dutch: Ambo Anthos; French: Christian Bourgois

A newly-widowed woman has done a runner. She just jumped in her car, abandoned her (very nice) house in north London and kept on driving until she reached the Norfolk coast. Now she’s rented a tiny cottage and holed herself away there, if only to escape the ceaseless sympathy and insincere concern.

She’s not quite sure, but thinks she may be having a bit of a breakdown. Or perhaps this sense of dislocation is perfectly normal in the circumstances. All she knows is that she can’t sleep and may be drinking a little more than she ought to.

But as her story unfolds we discover that her marriage was far from perfect. That it was, in fact, full of frustration and disappointment, as well as one or two significant secrets, and that by running away to this particular village she might actually be making her own personal pilgrimage.

By turns elegiac and highly comical, THE WIDOW'S TALE conjures up this most defiantly unapologetic of narrators as she begins to pick over the wreckage of her life and decide what has real value and what she should leave behind.

BEARS OF ENGLAND

2009

UK: Faber

There is a stirring in the forest of history and through the mists of time come the bears. Their heavy tread and a distant cry can be heard resounding through the centuries: “Come, bears of England, come …”. Mick Jackson uses these proud, terrifying creatures to weave his strange and unforgettable story. From the Dark Ages come the spirit bears, haunting the villagers at night. Sin-eating bears consume the sins of the recently departed along with the bread and ale left out for them – until they decline the role of assuager of human guilt and oblige the townsfolk to take responsibility for their own actions. Gladiatorial bears in chains draw huge crowds until one decides he’s had enough: how will the people entertain themselves now that the bears have had their sport with them? Highly trained circus bears suddenly revolt and walk the high wire along their escape route. Bears who clean the Victorian sewers trade coins and rare pieces of jewellery fallen into the sewers; men steal from them at their peril. There are rumours of bears living among us, who have deliberately inveigled their way into society to live domestic lives. As each band of bears walk into exile, they head north and into the caves of the Derbyshire Dales and hibernation – until an old voice calls the Bears of England and they emerge into the winter snow, finally escaping into the icy waters of the channel. This is the last the bears see of England – and the last England sees of the bears…

Mixing folk tale with fantasy and history with myth, the narrative that unfolds is dark, playful and filled with magical moments, as it marches ever forward towards a strange convergence. The author of THE UNDERGROUND MAN and FIVE BOYS has produced an adult fable with resonances for our own times, about the fear of the unknown and the triumph of strength over evil – with freedom being the ultimate goal. Or perhaps it’s just a delightfully witty and quirky book for those who love reading about bears? It’s for the reader to decide.

TEN SORRY TALES

2006

World All Languages: Faber

A boy who sleeps through his teenage years, a pair of spinsters who collect young men in a highly unorthodox manner, a young man who answers an advertisement for a 'hermit wanted', and a school-teacher who fakes her own abduction by aliens: these are some of the eccentric characters in Mick Jackson's new collection of fable-like stories, TEN SORRY TALES. Told with all the wit and charm of his best-selling novels, TEN SORRY TALES will be published in an illustrated edition for readers of all ages.

FIVE BOYS

2002

UK: Faber; US: Morrow; Czech: Argo; Danish: Rosenkilde; Dutch: Ambo Anthos; French: Christian Bourgois; German: Knaus; AUDIO UK:

When Bobby is evacuated in 1941 from London to a remote village in Devon, he imagines his life has come to an end. In fact, a new and very strange life is about to begin. Abandoned by its men-folk, the village is entirely given over to its stay-behinds: the women, the old and the young, the chancer who has evaded conscription, and the terrifying five boys, who subject Bobby to dreadful rites of passage but who eventually and grudgingly accept him as one of them. The village is dominated by strange and eccentric characters, not the least of whom is the Bee King, who exercises a powerful, and indeed hypnotic, influence on the boys. As American G. I.s gather in preparation for D-Day a curious but no less compelling drama is acted out by the stay-behinds. Just exactly who is the Bee King, and why has he descended with his thousands of tiny subjects on this village at this particular time? In this finely wrought novel, and following his Booker-shortlisted THE UNDERGROUND MAN, Mick Jackson evokes a lost place and time with an exquisite touch.