B.S. Johnson triumph

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Top prize for biography of writer who won no glory

This is good to see. The Samuel Johnson Prize has been awarded to the obscenely talented Jonathan Coe for his biography of the almost forgotten – but not now – experimental novelist of the sixties, BS Johnson. His work is uncategorisable, really, and he was writing at a time when Kingsley Amis was considered daring. I hope the recognition that this biography has been given will see a revival in Johnson’s fortunes. Maybe his books will stay in print long enough for me to set them as class reading for my postmodernism module…

CC BY-SA 4.0 B.S. Johnson triumph by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Responses to “B.S. Johnson triumph”

  1. I read that piece whil in town and was saddened that BS Johnson was so troubled that he committed suicide. Sounds like an interesting guy and the idea of releasing a book in a box so that people could read the chapters in whichever order they want ties back to the earlier discussion doesn’t it?

  2. Yes – the book in the box – The Unfortunates – is the ultimate postmodern novel, because narrative linearity is completely undermined. even so, BSJ specified which was the first and which the last chapter, so you do still have some kind of compass to guide you.

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