John Lanchester  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

John Henry Lanchester (born 25 February 1962) is a British journalist and novelist. He was born in Hamburg, brought up in the Far East and educated in England, at Gresham's School, Holt between 1972 and 1980 and St John's College, Oxford. Lanchester is the author of three novels: The Debt to Pleasure (1996), Mr Phillips (2000) and Fragrant Harbour (2002).

The Debt to Pleasure won the 1996 Whitbread Book Award in the First Novel category and the 1997 Hawthornden Prize. It was described as a skilful and wickedly funny account of a man's life, revealed through his thoughts on cuisine as he undertakes a mysterious journey around France. The revelations become more and more shocking as the truth about the narrator becomes apparent. He is a monster, and yet an appealing and erudite villain.

Mr Phillips describes one day in the life of Victor Phillips, a middle-aged accountant who has been made redundant, but has yet to tell his family. He spends the day travelling round London, with the narrative dividing itself between reporting Mr Phillips' observations about what he sees, and also exploring his recollections of things in the past, or his own taboo-like preoccupations, with sex and social obligation. The book deals with other male, middle-class concerns, including money, family and getting older.

Fragrant Harbour is set in Hong Kong in the 1980s. It tells the stories of three immigrants to the island -- a brash young Englishwoman who has recently arrived, an elderly English hotel-keeper who came in the 1930s; a young Chinese man who came as a child refugee from mainland China.

In 2007 his memoir Family Romance was published. In it he recounts the story of his mother, a nun who walked out of the convent, changed her name, falsified her age, and concealed these facts from her husband and son until her death.

Lanchester's journalism has appeared in Granta, The Observer, The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, The New Yorker and the London Review of Books, where he is a Contributing Editor. He also regularly writes on food and technology for Esquire.

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