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Books

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date January 17, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6024-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date January 17, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6025-6
  • US List Price $26.00

From one of the most unusual and distinctive writers working today, dubbed “the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation” by the Guardian, Will Self’s Why Read is a cornucopia of thoughtful and brilliantly witty essays on writing and literature.

Self takes us with him: from the foibles of his typewriter repairman to the irradiated exclusion zone of Chernobyl, to the Australian outback, and to literary forms past and future. With his characteristic intellectual brio, Self aims his inimitable eye at titans of literature like Woolf, Kafka, Orwell, and Conrad. He writes movingly on W.G. Sebald’s childhood in Germany and provocatively describes the elevation of William S. Burroughs’s Junky from shocking pulp novel to beloved cult classic. Self also expands on his regular column in Literary Hub to ask readers, how, what, and ultimately why we should read in an ever-changing world. Whether he is writing on the rise of the bookshelf as an item of furniture in the nineteenth century or on the impossibility of Googling his own name in a world lived online, Self’s trademark intoxicating prose and mordant, energetic humor infuse every piece.

A book that examines how the human stream of consciousness flows into and out of literature, Why Read will satisfy both old and new readers of this icon of contemporary literature.

Tags Essays

Praise for Will Self:

“Will Self may not be the last modernist at work but at the moment he’s the most fascinating of the tradition’s torch bearers.”—New York

“Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel.”—Guardian

“Mr. Self often enough writes with such vividness it’s as if he is the first person to see anything at all.”—New York Times

“Self writes in a high-modernist, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness style, leaping between sentences, time periods, and perspectives . . . The reward is a strange, vivid book.”—New Yorker

“Self’s prose demands real attention, but is never less than sharp, biting and incisive. Prepare to be eaten whole.”—Independent

“Like the work of the great high modernists from the 1920s, like Joyce, Woolf and Eliot, there is a kind of chaotic beauty in Self’s unrestricted writing . . . You’ll be simultaneously entertained, mesmerized, intellectually stimulated, baffled—and laugh your ass off.”—NPR

“Will Self’s Phone will be one of the most significant literary works of our century . . . Over and above the intellectual sprezzatura of the work, there is, at its heart, an emotional core, a profound sense of grief.”—New Statesman

“Self has indeed been a goat among the sheep of contemporary English fiction, a puckish trickster self-consciously at odds with its middle-class politeness . . . Writers, too, as Self so wonderfully proves, can awaken the half-dead and reanimate that which has been sunk in oblivion.”—New York Review of Books