Jen Calleja book launch at Grapefruit SaleSarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Hop on the tour bus as Jen Calleja rolls into Sale to launch her debut novel Vehicle, published by Prototype, reading from the work and in conversation with fellow writer H Gareth Gavin.
Described as a ‘brilliant and incisive writer’ and praised by the likes of Isabel Waidner, Jen Calleja’s ‘writing combines wit, guile and style’, according to Eley Williams. A poet, short story writer and essayist (as well as a drummer and a vocalist in the DIY punk bands Sauna Youth, Feature, Monotony, Gold Foil and Mind Jai), Jen Calleja is widely published, including in literary journals such as The White Review and The London Magazine, and in Salt Publishing’s annual anthology Best British Short Stories, edited by Nicholas Royle. She was awarded an Authors’ Foundation Grant from the Society of Authors to work on Vehicle, and was shortlisted for the Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize for an excerpt from the novel. She was also longlisted for the Ivan Juritz Prize for Experimentation in Text. A literary translator from German into English, she has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, and was the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library.
Jen Calleja’s verse novel Vehicle is described by Joanna Walsh as an ‘intoxicating, thrilling and endlessly inventive work’ and ‘a feminist Pale Fire for the Brexit generation’.
I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For is Jen Calleja’s short story collection, which came out in 2020, also with Prototype, who publishes fiction and poetry through a flexible, interdisciplinary approach. Recent titles include the debut novel by Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Marten and Lila Matsumoto’s Two Twin Pipes Sprout Water, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, while Derek Jarman’s Through The Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping came out with Prototype imprint House Sparrow Press.
Jen Calleja’s verse novel Vehicle is described as ‘a metafictional work of literary speculative fiction, and a timely and daring exploration of xenophobia, exploitation, the writing of histories and legacies, and the politics of translation’, while Joanna Walsh calls it an ‘intoxicating, thrilling and endlessly inventive work’ and ‘a feminist Pale Fire for the Brexit generation’.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb: In a time when looking into the past has become a socially unacceptable and illegal act in the Nation, a group of scholars are offered an attractive residency to allow them to pursue their projects. When the residency transpires to be a devastating trick, these Researchers go on the run, and soon discover that their projects all relate to one major event: the Isletese Disaster – the decline and subsequent devastation 50 years earlier of a long-forgotten roaming archipelago called The Islets. One figure emerges as central to all of their work: Hester Heller, a reformed cult musiker turned student recruited from the Institute for Transmission as an agent of the state and tasked with gathering reconnaissance on the Disaster by using her old band Vehicle as a cover. Heller is the key to the Researchers’ collective story, which they try to piece together while evading their pursuers.