Two timely explorations of male sexual violence, power and corruption
Love and hate, desire and guilt, friendship and betrayal form the coordinates of these two intensely dramatic stories of men and women caught between their irrational passions and the urge for control.
In Feathered Glory the seemingly happy marriage of a school principal and his artist wife reveals dangerous fault-lines as an old lover reappears in the husband’s life and the wife, fascinated by a charismatic wildlife rehabilitator, brings an injured swan into their home. The poignant denouement leaves every character irreversibly transformed.
The past also haunts the present in Afternoon of a Faun, where an accusation of historic sexual assault plunges Marco Rosedale, an English journalist in New York, into a series of deepening crises. Set during the months leading up to Trump’s election, this is at once a study of our shifting social and sexual mores, and a meditation on what makes us believe or disbelieve the stories of other people.
These gripping, darkly comic novellas reflect and complement each other, offering a sharply observed vision that will resonate with anyone interested in the clash of power and desire in our embattled contemporary lives.
“The word “masterpiece” is not one to throw around lightly but I was enthralled by James Lasdun’s novella Afternoon of a Faun, from his collection Victory… it has the psychological precision of a Chekhov story.”
Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard *Books of the Year*
“Two superb novellas full of contemporary resonance… extraordinarily taut and compelling.”
Leyla Sanai, Spectator
“[Victory makes] a convincing case for James Lasdun as one of the most incisive investigators of the human heart writing in English today… an instant masterpiece.”
Johanna Thomas-Corr, Observer
“The novellas [in Victory] are united by Lasdun’s signature virtues: a forensic attention to psychological detail, a mastery of dialogue and an all-round fluency that gives his prose a compelling swiftness. It is these virtues, more than the plots, that make Victory a triumph.”
Frank Lawton, Literary Review
“Timely and irresistibly unpleasant… sure to provoke passionate discussion… [Afternoon of a Faun] lingers after you have closed the book with a vividness that testifies to the compact virtues of the novella.”
Marcel Theroux, Guardian
“[James Lasdun’s] electric new book… is absorbing… [it] constantly pulls the rug from under your feet.”
Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail
“Afternoon of a Faun is a brilliantly imagined, devastatingly insightful and powerfully rendered novel of sexual exploitation and betrayal. Like all of James Lasdun’s work, it is meticulously written and intelligent, both a novel of ideas and a cautionary tale for the #MeToo era. Its ending is bitterly ironic, or perhaps just darkly funny, depending upon one’s perspective – and Afternoon of a Faun is about the very drama of “perspective”.”
Joyce Carol Oates
“In an era of sexual reckonings and “defunct male prerogatives”, any decades-old fling is a ticking time bomb an ambivalent ex can choose to detonate at whim. Yet who’s to say what actually happened? Afternoon of a Faun is an exquisitely rendered tale of moral arithmetic, erotic murkiness, and men’s fascination with other men’s scorecards. It’s also Lasdun at his most pleasurably diabolical.”
“[Victory] comprises two mesmeric… impressive stories, containing beautiful descriptions and subtle twists.”
Sunday Times, *Best Literary Novels of 2019*
“Darkly humorous and compelling portraits of men wrestling with guilt and desire… [Afternoon of a Faun] feels very much a novel for our times.”
Alex Preston, Guardian
“Fascinating about the warped thought processes that often underpin male duplicity.”
William Skidelsky, Financial Times
“Feathered Glory confirms Lasdun as one of the great serio-comic writers of the age. The writing, alternately poetic and razor-sharp cynical, absorbs from start to finish.”
Ian Thomson, Tablet, Novel of the Week
“From book to book, James Lasdun gets more and more interesting.”
Bookmunch, 50 Books We're Looking Forward to in 2019
“Two stunningly well-written novellas… these stories are timeless in their humorous, melancholy view of the pitfalls of love.”
Anne Chisholm, Tablet, *Summer reads of 2019*