Prufrock's Page

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Not Quite A Dog's Life

"I was always a dog person and I found it so much easier writing from the point of view of the dog." So says Matt Haig of his first novel, The Last Family in England. (Er...didn't Paul Auster do the same thing in Timbuktu?)

But he went further: the book is loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry V Part 1, and the dog in question is called Falstaff.

Not surprisingly, he found few takers for his manuscript. So he approached Jeannette Winterson: "I contacted her cold. I pasted at the bottom of the email the first 1,000 words. I'd done it to a lot of authors and most of them completely blanked me – well, didn't get back to me. But she looked at it and liked it and told me who to contact in terms of the publisher and gave me a quote I could use." That quote was: "I love this book. It's fabulous and moving and funny and strange. It will go down among the great animal books."

The happy ending, according to The Yorkshire Post: "And so it was that The Last Family in England was published by Jonathan Cape to rave reviews – 'multi-faceted', 'clearly destined to become a cult hit', 'a carefully plotted maze of tragi-comedy' – with Matt hailed as a rising young star in the literary galaxy. The hardback made it on to the bestseller lists, the paperback has just come out, and Matt Haig is now very much in demand."


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