Beyond the Book: Background information when reading When Will There Be Good News?

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When Will There Be Good News?

A Novel

by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2010, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Patty Magyar

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About the Author
Kate Atkinson was born in York, England in 1951 and studied English Literature at Dundee University in Scotland. After graduating in 1974, she researched a postgraduate doctorate on American Literature. She later taught at Dundee University and began writing short stories in 1981. She started writing for women's magazines after winning the 1986 Woman's Own Short Story Competition.

Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995), won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year award. Set in Yorkshire, the book has been adapted for radio, theater and TV. This was followed by Human Croquet (1977), Abandonment (2000), Emotionally Weird (2000), Not the End of the World (2002), Case Histories (2004), One Good Turn (2006) and When Will There Be Good News (2008). The last three all feature former private detective Jackson Brodie.

She has written two plays for the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh: Nice (1996), and Abandonment, which premiered as part of the Edinburgh Festival in August 2000. She currently lives in Edinburgh and is an occasional contributor to newspapers and magazines.

Whatever genre Atkinson writes in, her books tend to touch on the themes of love and loss, and how to carry on, always presented with a psychological astuteness and wicked sense of humor. Her books tend to be populated by odd, sometimes amoral, and generally dysfunctional misfits who become credible by dint of being so fully rendered.

Her books have frequently been described as comedies of manners; that is to say a comedy that represents the complex and sophisticated code of behavior current in fashionable circles of society, where appearances count for more than true moral character. A comedy of manners tends to reward its clever and unscrupulous characters rather than punish their immorality. The humor of a comedy of manners relies on verbal wit and repartee. This form of writing flourished in England with authors such as Jane Austen, Samuel Coleridge, Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward.

Article by Patty Magyar

This article was originally published in October 2008, and has been updated for the January 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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