London's hottest new writers

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Soviet space travel, life after God, agoraphobia, 'Wayne's World', Chinese national identity, 'yobbish' rain, an Englishman's whaling adventures in seventeenth-century Norway... four of London's hottest new writers reveal the inspiration behind their work

  • London's hottest new writers

    Jed Mercurio


  • Jed Mercurio


    Inspired by 'Wayne's World?' We speak to Jed Mercurio about his new novel 'Ascent'.

    Georgina Harding

    'I feel rather guilty i didn't travel to the Artic, but I didn't travel to the seventeenth century either'.

    Daljit Nagra

    Few contemporary poets are household names, but Daljit Nagra is well on the way.


    Xiaolu Guo

    'Some of the reviews, they really expect that I am super clever writer trying to manipulate bad Englsih!' We speak to Xiaolu Guo about her latest novel ‘A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers’

    Jed Mercurio

    Jed Mercurio’s ingenious new novel ‘Ascent’ is about an alternative Soviet moon landing. Yefgenii Yeremin is a single-minded orphan who trains to be a fighter pilot and cuts his wings in the Korean War before being rescued from exile in an outpost of Franz Joseph Land and put into the Cosmonaut programme. Mercurio, who lives in Teddington but works out of an office in Soho, is best known for writing hospital-set TV series (‘Cardiac Arrest’, ‘Bodies’), based on his own experience of being a doctor in Birmingham, that are big on flawed characters and short on sentimentality. The tone of ‘Ascent’ is equally cool. ‘I don’t worry about alienating people,’ says Mercurio. ‘You’ve got to take a view that you can’t appeal to everybody. There’s a line in “Wayne’s World” about Led Zeppelin, that they didn’t try to be liked by everyone, they left that to the Bee Gees.’ At 40, Mercurio isn’t old enough to remember Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. His interest in space travel started between the Apollo and Shuttle missions when he was a lad growing up in a small town near Stafford. ‘Ascent’ isn’t like ‘Headlong’ – Michael Frayn’s novel which shows off his knowledge of Bruegel between slivers of plot – but Mercurio did train as a pilot at university and complete some military training with the RAF, and can’t resist filling the early chapters with detailed descriptions of technical manoeuvres during the Korean War dogfights between US and Soviet pilots (who were masquerading as North Koreans). ‘I don’t think you can wear your research too prominently,’ he says. ‘There is a temptation when you’ve done lots of research to show off and I hope “Ascent” is enough of a character study not to be a massive turn-off.’ Emma Perry

    ‘Ascent’ is published by Cape at £12.99.

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Users say

11 comments
J Barden
J Barden

The Solitude of Thomas Cave is one of the best books I've read. I'm so impressed - I'll purchase her other novels now.

Mubin
Mubin

A graduate in English honours, The Solitude of Thomas Cave is the best book I have ever read and Georgina Harding, my favourite writer only after Charles Lamb. I would be ever grateful to anyone who can give me her email id.

Knox Moore
Knox Moore

Yeah, it's definitely a recommended read. I certainly don't agree with everything this KJ Rolling person has to write, but you can't deny there is much wisdom and common sense in the book, if you can read without prejudice.

Carl Vorderman
Carl Vorderman

So tell me, Spambuster, name the sections that you disliked most of all. Failure to do so only confirms my suspicion that you are an aggrieved little person who has an axe to grind with the said author of this book of the decade.

spambuster
spambuster

the books is shyte, i want my money back. dont buy it, it is seriously rubbish

Arthur TS Jackson
Arthur TS Jackson

I don't know who this KJ Rolling geezer is, but he (or she) produces many gems about the Tower Of London and loyalist band parades. I liked the item about the monarchy, while the mock commercials are quite amusing.

Nigel Bakhai
Nigel Bakhai

What's Kerry's problem? Is he/she riddled with angst at having a bi-sexual name? It's a belter of a book.

Jimmie Oliver
Jimmie Oliver

Yeah, the KJ Rolling book is definitely not dull. It is quite amusing and provocative which probably explains why Kerry was not so impressed - the poor dear.

Gerald Rhys-Williams
Gerald Rhys-Williams

I have just read 'How To Commit Suicide In Ten Easy Steps' and it is certainly not a dull read. Okay so the title is a bit risque, but there are so many thought-provoking bit-sized items to keep any reader amused or antagonised.

Kerry
Kerry

I read it , its a load of cr@p

KJ Rolling
KJ Rolling

I submitted more than two weeks ago a book for a possible review to John O'Connell, but have not had the courtesy of a reply. Could someone return my book, entitled 'How To Commit Suicide In Ten Easy Steps' by KJ Rolling, unless you need more time, which is fine. Disappointed KJ Rolling