Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Human Traces

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Human Traces

A Novel

by Sebastian Faulks

Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2006, 618 pages

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Beyond the Book

Print Review

Sebastian Faulks was born on 20 April 1953 and was educated in England at Wellington College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was the first literary editor of The Independent (a leading British newspaper launched in 1986) and became deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday before leaving in 1991 to concentrate on writing; he continues to contribute articles and reviews to a number of newspapers and magazines.

He is well-known for his three novels set in wartime France: The Girl at the Lion d'Or (1989), set between the First and Second World Wars, Birdsong (1993), the story of a young Englishman and his harrowing experiences fighting in northern France during the First World War; and Charlotte Gray (1998), the adventures of a young Scottish woman who becomes involved with the French resistance during the Second World War.  His more recent novels are On Green Dolphin Street (2001), a love story set against the backdrop of the Cold War, and Human Traces (published in the UK in 2005 and in the USA this month). His next novel is scheduled for release in the UK in May 2007.  Titled Engleby, it is about a man, devoid of scruple or self-pity, rising through the ranks during the Thatcher years and into the "blandscape of New Labour".  The book jacket blurb describes it as "a lament for a generation and the country it failed".

He lives with his wife and three children (aged about 15, 13 and 9) in a house in Holland Park, London.  When asked whether he consciously chose to write a weightier novel following the relatively slim On Green Dolphin Street, he replies "I didn't sit down and say to myself, 'Right, in the next book you are going to write a really big, ambitious story with massively weighty themes.' I'm glad that this has been that book, but you can't really choose. I feel as if I'm the passive instrument of whatever is out there. Something comes along and says, 'Write me.'"

Bibliography

  • A Trick of the Light (1984)
  • The Girl at the Lion d'Or (1989)
  • A Fool's Alphabet (1992)
  • Birdsong (1993)
  • The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives (nonfiction, 1996)
  • Charlotte Gray (1998)
  • The Vintage Book of War Stories (editor, with Jorg Hensgen, 1999)
  • On Green Dolphin Street (2001)
  • Human Traces (2005)
  • Pistache (a collection of parodies and pastiches, mostly from BBC Radio 4's The Write Stuff, (Oct 2006 in the UK)
  • Engleby (2007, in the UK).

This article is from the October 5, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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