Magnus Mills

Magnus Mills has had more jobs than you’ve had hot dinners. Pretty much by accident, his writing skills were brought to the attention of the Independent newspaper, where he wrote about life on the buses for a year or so; then, while continuing to drive the number 18 bus out of Brixton depot, he decided to write a novel…

But did you know he then became a gardener a postman and a White Van Man? The thing is, given the macabre tone and content of his novels, would you want this man delivering mail to your door every morning?

Both the Booker-nominated The Restraint of Beasts and the recent hit All Quiet on the Orient Express present a world view bleakly funny enough to make the League of Gentlemen quake. Dark, surreal and deadpan, these are books to make you laugh uneasily. All Quiet on the Orient Express is notable for the way Mills has created an utterly enthralling, page-turning narrative from events so low key you barely notice them. There are no other novelists working today comparable to Mills. Superficially a book about a lonely man missing out on booze, girls and cash in the Lake District off peak, if you have read it you will know that it is actually a very acute parable about capitalist Darwinism, the sort of subject that Kafka writes about in a similarly bleak and absurd way. And if you think Kafka is a bit of grand name to be bandied about, one of America’s most famous literary recluses, Thomas Pynchon, broke cover to declare The Restraint of Beasts ‘a demented, deadpan comic wonder’, joining the unanimous chorus of critical approval for Mills’s other novels.

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