His Ted Hughes-inspired debut Grief Is The Thing With Feathers was praised as ‘a luminous reading experience’ by the TLS and called ‘amazing and unforgettable’ in The Times. It saw former bookseller and Granta and Portobello books editor Max Porter named the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year in 2016 (ranking him alongside alumni such as Zadie Smith and Simon Armitage), and it won the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award. Also shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize, it has been translated into 27 languages and was described as ‘dazzlingly good’ by Sunday Times Bestseller Chart-topping Robert Macfarlane (he also rates Helen Mort’s upcoming debut novel Black Car Burning).
The rapture continues for Porter, acknowledged as being one of the rising stars of British literature, with his second novel, Lanny, out on 7 March with Faber & Faber and loved by the likes of Mark Haddon – ‘It takes a special kind of genius to create something which is both so strange and yet so compulsive’ – and Maggie Farrell – ‘Books this good don’t come along very often. It’s a novel like no other, an exhilarating, disquieting, joyous read.’
Reprising the magic realism of Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, along with its bitter-sweet flavour, Lanny, says the Manchester Literature Festival blurb, is ‘equally dark, funny, joyous and exhilarating’. Set in a village outside London, it captures the gossip, good will, mystery and eccentricity of the people who live there now and the people who lived there many moons ago, including Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber and is listening, watching and waiting for the return of the boy who gives his name to the title. Says Costa Prize winner Nathan Filer: ‘Think: Under Milk Wood meets Broadchurch.’
This event – a pre-cursor to the annual Manchester Literature Festival, back in October 2019 – sees Max read from the book and discuss his work with Luke Brown, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing and author of My Biggest Lie. Meanwhile, also in March, the acclaimed stage adaptation (Wayward Productions in association with Complicité) of Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, opens at the Barbican Theatre in London, starring Cillian Murphy.