Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Knives reviewed in the Financial Times: 'Thrilling in the truest sense.'

Dan Mitchell's art for the FT review of The Knives
This weekend's Financial Times brought a great boon: a very gratifying review of The Knives by the critic and author Erica Wagner, who clearly read the book as closely as any novelist could hope for and was also kind enough to name-check my earlier novel Crusaders (2008).

The FT also allotted a generous space and positioning to Wagner's piece and illustrated it with a drawing by Dan Mitchell that very adroitly projects the menace suggested in the titling of the review: Ministry of Fear.

Some choice extracts:

'The current political climate, with reality giving fiction a run for its money, is one in which the jaded reader might be hard to impress. Which makes Richard T Kelly’s The Knives all the more admirable... This is a sharp and engaging tale...Kelly makes lives the reader can believe in. Novels are thrilling in the truest sense when they feel as if they are built of flesh and blood; it’s Kelly’s success in doing so that makes his final twist of the knife even more shocking.'

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Knives: a Prospect podcast with Sameer Rahim

Follow this link for the audio of a 20-minute conversation I had last week at the London offices of Prospect magazine with their Arts & Books editor Sameer Rahim. For me it was very engrossing. 

Sameer's Twitter avatar is a picture of Joseph Conrad, which would be a fine thing to do at any time; but if you should cross his path at any point then the tale of why he chose Conrad at this particular moment is well worth the telling.

This is the billing on the Prospect site:

In Prospect’s latest podcast, the novelist Richard T. Kelly discusses a Conservative Home Secretary struggling to cope with a multitude of problems: terrorism, civil liberties, immigration and human rights. But Kelly isn’t talking about the former Home Secretary Theresa May; he’s talking about David Blaylock, the protagonist of his new political thriller The Knives. Through Blaylock, Kelly explores the difficulties of being a politician in the 21st century: the knives are out for you, always.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Knives makes The Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary: 'A big year in politics'

The Evening Standard has been a fixture of the intra-London commute for so long now that I can remember it before it was distributed for free. Around town you can certainly feel the presence of the 900,000 or so copies that go out these days. So it was a thrill to see The Knives covered yesterday in the Diary pages, a space usually reserved for Great & Good: aristocrats, moguls, beloved entertainers, and senior politicians. It's on the back of the last category, I guess, that me and my novel rode in. My thanks to Robbie Griffiths of the ES for picking up on the story.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Esquire reviews The Knives: 'A finely honed slice of modern political drama'

I'm delighted that the September issue of Esquire now on stands finds room in its cultural highlights section for a write-up on The Knives. One thing that's always lively, surprising and educational about reading reviews of your own stuff (and in a good way, I mean) is seeing how the reviewer selects from and synopsises the book's narrative. Very deftly done in this case, and with no little wit.

This is the critical conclusion the review comes to, which is very gratifying:

'What Kelly... has done so well is to craft an exciting novel set in the political arena... it grips from the off. This book could not also be more timely, with the threat to MPs' personal safety and radicalisation on British soil as alive on these pages as they are in tomorrow's headlines.'

Monday, 8 August 2016

Nick Cohen on The Knives (Observer): 'The best novel about modern politics I have read in years'.

The shrewdest observation I've ever heard said about reviews comes, if I remember right, from Roman Polanski, to the effect that if you decide to believe whatever good write-ups you're lucky enough to get then you have to believe the non-good ones, too, since there's no substantive difference that anyone can point to.

And fair play to that, but obviously one's attention tends in certain directions and not others. Nick Cohen, political writer for the Observer and the Spectator and Standpoint, author of (inter alia) What's Left? and You Can't Read The Book, reviewed The Knives for last Sunday's Observer, and I couldn't have wished for more in appreciation of the novel - in particular his assertion that it is 'the best novel about modern politics I have read in years.'

The Knives launched at Daunts Cheapside 04.08.2016

My kind of shopfront
The independent Daunts chain of bookshops is a huge boon to London and its readers and writers. If we don't have as many booksellers as we might wish in London (compared, say, to coffeehouses, where the product is hardly cheaper though its use-value is cursory), then these ones that we have are to be prized.

The City is a zone of London where the habitues could always do with some edifying reading to keep their eyes above the horizon, and that's what Daunts Cheapside offers. Like every iteration of Daunts I've seen, it's well-stocked and adroitly-staffed and all about good books.

Editor Lee Brackstone addresses the room
That's where Faber & Faber and I went to launch The Knives last Thursday night, the night of the day of the novel's publication. It was a lovely crowd, on a heady August evening when people not already off on their holidays could have been excused for choosing the pub instead. The pub, in any case, is where we ended up, but not before the speeches and toasts that are customary to wetting a book's head.

Edna O'Brien dispenses the wisdom
Obviously when you write for a living you have writerly friends, but I would hope to be forgiven for singling out the attendance of one author to whom the rest of us are naturally inclined to bend the knee in this day and age. Edna O'Brien's literary production has been enjoying a tremendous resurgence at Faber and Faber where she, like me and a good few other fortunate souls, draws on the editorial support of Lee Brackstone. So I was delighted when Edna dropped into my do, as indeed was everybody else in the room.