If Fiction Uncovered were to assemble from scratch the prototypical overlooked British novelist they would in all likelihood produce something very like Chris Paling. He has been in effect a victim of his immense range of imaginative sympathies. None of his novels much resembles its predecessor in style or tone, and that has perhaps limited his readership, but despite flummoxing those who prefer the predictable, he is consistent at least in always letting characters come to life on his pages whose passions, perils and prejudices are always plausible, always involving, even when they are unusual or elusive, because Paling has the immense gift of being able to see the world fully from another’s perspective, however skewed, and enables his readers to do likewise.
Tasja Dorkofikis brought Chris to Portobello from Random House with Minding, his eighth novel (and regarded as his best up to date by several critics), and it was as unblinking and unsettling as his ninth, Nimrod’s Shadow, is surprising in its agility and playfulness. That the same writer can master such different modes, and still manage to communicate indissoluble truths of character, behaviour, crisis and motivation, ought to be celebrated far more than it has been. We at Portobello, like all Chris’ ardent fans tradewide, hope that his selection for Fiction Uncovered will start to see that error corrected, and Chris’ subtle, sinuous skills relished by many, many more readers.
Post by Philip Gwyn Jones, Executive Publisher, Granta Books & Portobello Books
You can read more about Chris Paling’s fiction in this post by Stuart Evers.