Author(s): Philip Hensher
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2008. An epic chronicle of the last twenty years of British life from the Booker shortlisted and Granta Best of Young British novelist, Philip Hensher. Beginning in 1974 and ending with the fading of Thatcher's government in 1996, 'The Northern Clemency' is Philip Hensher's epic portrait of an entire era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move. Set in Sheffield, it charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours, the Sellers family, newly arrived from London so that Bernie can pursue his job with the Electricity Board. The day the Sellers move in there is a crisis across the road: Malcolm Glover has left home, convinced his wife is having an affair. The consequences of this rupture will spread throughout the lives of both couples and their children, in particular ten-year-old Tim Glover, who never quite recovers from a moment of his mother's public cruelty and the amused taunting of fifteen-year-old Sandra Sellers, childhood crises that will come to a head twenty years later. In the background, England is changing: from a manufacturing- and industrial-based economy into a new world of shops, restaurants and service industries, a shift particularly marked in the North with the miners' strike of 1984, which has a dramatic impact on both families. Inspired by the expansive scale and webs of relationships of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels, 'The Northern Clemency' shows Philip Hensher to be one of our greatest chroniclers of English life.
'Lovingly rooted in 1970s and 1980s Sheffield, "The Northern Clemency" effectively reclaimed a lost genre of politically astute, richly decorated provincial family saga for modern readers.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent (Book of the Year) 'A tremendous book. Against an unfashionable 1970s background Philip Hensher has composed not so much a condition-of-England as a condition-of-humanity novel, which is gripping and surprising and shocking in all kinds of unpredictable ways, and enormously wide in psychological and moral scope. What a writer he is!' Philip Pullman 'Wise and strong and unputdownable.' A.S. Byatt, Financial Times (Book of the Year) Alex Clark, Sunday Telegraph (Book of the Year) 'A remarkable novel!a cumulative effect of luminous richness, like a perfect piece of orchestration!something more than brilliant cleverness makes this novel extraordinary.' Jane Shilling, Sunday Times Philip Hensher's new book shows that the epic, exciting, deeply engaged novel of society is not dead in England. The book has all the blessings of art, with the pulse of what Henry James called 'felt life' at the centre of its moral adventures." Andrew O'Hagan 'Engaging and hugely impressive. Hensher is an anatomist of familial tensions and marshals his large cast of characters deftly. He has an impeccable eye for nuances of character and setting, and the details of Seventies food and decor are lovingly done.' The Times 'Hensher has a forensic eye for detail, providing nightmarish glimpses of the everyday!engrossing, amusing and moving.' Independent 'Expansive yet precise, it leads the reader from the minutiae of family life to broad public events with the surest of hands.' Guardian 'Hensher is fascinatingly good on how social transformation manifests itself in the textures, colours and manners of a culture!extremely funny, but also deeply humane.' Robert Macfarlane, Sunday Times '"The Northern Clemency" -- vast, compendious, wearing its ambition like an outsize boutonniere -- makes a virtue of its exactness, its recapitulative zeal, its absolute determination to jam everything in and sit unshiftably on the lid.' D.J.Taylor, Independent on Sunday 'In a pin-sharp portrait of Sheffield this reviewer knows well, Hensher charts the shifting fortunes of the Glovers and the Sellers as they negotiate the seismically changing decades of the late 20th century.' Ross Gilfillan, Daily Mail 'The big question: is this novel worth, at a minute a page, 12 hours of our time? I think it is.' John Sutherland, Scotsman 'Hensher's is a bold, impressively sustained attempt to mark a transitional phase in modern Englishness as seen largely from the domestic sphere.' TLS 'A beautifully written book!as impressive in its scope as in the effortless artistry of the language. Its characters are well-defined and plausible, while the narrative is leavened with deftly observed humour that gently pokes its lower-middle class protagonists in the ribs.' Scotland on Sunday 'A suburban epic.' Financial Times 'An immense novel!Hensher presents the great drama and inexhaustible wonder of ordinary life.' Spectator '"The Northern Clemency" is a terrific novel -- a truly fine achievement.' New Statesman 'Combining his intelligence with a less expected humanity and storytelling drive, "The Northern Clemency" powerfully slices and preserves 20 years of British life and deserves to be remembered for at least that length of time.' Mark Lawson, Esquire 'His descriptive flourishes are a pleasure.' Sunday Telegraph 'Humane, historically literate, aware of the trangenital graze and sheer of public issue on private experience.' Independent Witty fun!not only extremely funny, but also deeply humane.' Sunday TImes
Philip Hensher is a columnist for the Independent, arts critic for the Spectator and a Granta Best of Young British novelist. He has written six novels, 'Other Lulus', 'Kitchen Venom' (Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), 'Pleasured', the Booker-longlisted 'The Mulberry Empire', 'The Fit' and 'King of the Badgers', as well as a collection of short stories, 'The Bedroom of the Mister's House'. He lives in South London.