Adam Thirlwell was born in London in 1978 and studied English Literature at New College, Oxford, and was then elected a Prize Fellow of All Souls College.
Thirlwell’s literary debut in 2003 was the novel »Politics«, the manuscript of which earned him a place on »Granta« magazine’s list of Best Young British Novelists, before the novel was published. It depicts a ménage à trois between Moshe, Nana, and Anjali, all in their twenties. In it, declarations of love are tactically employed, and sex is used to cement or change power relations. Critics attributed to the author not only a narrative virtuosity that approaches a »total control of the plot, characters, and reader«, but also a moral subtlety, in the novel’s exploration of the complications of altruism and the possible benefits of egoism. With a »sobering look at physical love at the beginning of the 21st century«, they wrote, Thirlwell succeeded in presenting an »absolutely contemporary book«. The author’s second work, published in 2007 in Britain, was an essay in novelistic form: »with past and future adventures of the art of the novel, playing out on almost every continent, in ten languages, and with a giant cast of writers, translators, and other fantasy creatures«. Instead of a plot, we find a narrative on the creative potential of rewriting in the literary process, across literary history, whose symbol was the lost translation of Flaubert’s »Madame Bovary«, which the novelist made with his niece’s governess, Juliet Herbert. In 2009, Thirlwell published the novel »The Escape«, a farce in a fantasy spa town that investigates the history of the twentieth century. In 2015, the novel »Lurid & Cute« appeared, in which a delinquent narrator, descending a spiral of lies, infidelity, and other immorality, analyzes the limits of morality, the self, and other apparently stable categories.
Thirlwell often writes for newspapers, including the »Guardian« and the »New York Times«, and his essays appear regularly in the »New York Review of Books« and »Times Literary Supplement«. He was twice (in 2003 and 2013) placed on »Granta«’s list of the best young British novelists, and in 2008 he received the Somerset Maugham Award. In 2011, Thirlwell was appointed the S. Fischer Guest Professor for Comparative Literature at the Free University Berlin. In 2015 he received the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.