International writing faculty
James Scudamore (Fiction)
James Scudamore's first novel, The Amnesia Clinic, won the 2007 Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and The Commonwealth Writers' Prize. His second, Heliopolis, was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize. He is currently Visiting Fellow of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He believes that creative writing teaching should be reactive rather than prescriptive, and his one-on-one mentoring style reflects that belief.
What some critics say of Heliopolis:
'This novel merits the epithet Dickensian in a number of ways: in its generous anger at injustice and inequality, its attention to the lives of the poor, and its relish for food... read it for the power of the writing, the descriptions that fizz off the page, and the lust for life.' Independent on Sunday
'The writing is exemplary: you feel the hand of a natural at work, one whose command of tone is strong, and who has an instinctive feel for handling a story.' Guardian
'Written in beautiful, clear prose, at ease equally with the flittering, dangerous games of the socialites and with the pungent depths of the slums... fascinating.' Literary Review
Excerpts from his work
From Heliopolis, Chapter 1
For the very rich, a pall of fear almost as heavy as the pollution hangs over this unmappable metropolis - but if, like me, you have less to protect, you can get high on the energy of the place, and allow it to fascinate and excite you. Town planning never happened: there wasn't time. The city ambushed its inhabitants, exploding in consecutive booms of coffee, sugar and rubber, so quickly that nobody could draw breath to say what should go where. It has been expanding ever since, sustained by all that ferocious energy. And here, just as in the universe, anything could happen. Derelict skyscrapers are not uncommon in the city centre, because when they get old it's easier and cheaper to build afresh somewhere new than to knock down and start again. These bricked-up towers rot into squats and vertical shanty towns, awaiting the eraser of redevelopment. In some neighbourhoods, there is so little green and so much concrete that during afternoon storms the streets simply flood. The roads themselves become gutters, as if the buildings were the beings for whom the city was intended, and humans their waste.
From The Amnesia Clinic, Chapter 10
I felt acid-limbed from lack of sleep and the cold, and I still hadn't eaten, but as the train moved out of the town and the day got into its stride, I became more animated. It was impossible not to, in the face of such breathtaking scale shifts between us and the mountains around us. With each slope we skirted and each false horizon we shattered, the beast of an engine which had seemed so huge at the station felt less significant and more like a maggot browsing a mammoth. The train clattered through pine forests, across metal bridges and through dusty cuttings, negotiating its way through the fickle landscape of the highlands. On a couple of occasions we had to duck for tunnels. As the train passed through, the tunnel roof would whip over our heads like a near-miss from a guillotine blade and cool, moist air would stream over us inside, away from the sunshine. Screams and whoops would echo in the damp darkness for an instant before the light began to rush in as we approached the other end. Those who used the railway regularly knew precisely how low these were and stood in affectedly nonchalant poses, hands on their hips, the tops of their hats almost brushing the tunnel ceilings as the train shot through. I sat cross-legged and kept my head down.