Kevin Brooks

Portrait Kevin Brooks
© Nadja Meister

Kevin Brooks, a new voice among British writers of books for young adults, was born in 1959 in the county of Devon. He studied psychology, philosophy, and cultural studies in Birmingham and London. He had been a punk musician and painter and had worked as a petrol station attendant and at the London Zoo before publishing his first book, »Martyn Pig«, in 2002, a radically dark mystery novel which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal (2002).

When asked why he writes for young adults, Brooks explains: »Most people stop asking themselves certain questions when they become adults […]. I, on the other hand, feel the same as I did when I was 14: confused. A bit frightened. Without a clear idea of what’s really going on. Therefore it’s very natural for me to write about this.« His books evoke atmospheric tension and are disturbing, dark and full of suspense. In a powerfully poetic voice packed with authenticity, the author describes how the everyday lives of his young protagonists fall apart in confrontation with violence and unfortunate coincidences. In riveting scenes, Brooks casts them alternately as villains and victims, »speeding them into unknown territory« (»Die Zeit«). Over and over again, he reveals the fluid boundary between fate and accident, guilt and innocence. In quiet moments, his protagonists become introspective, reflecting on their often painful experiences with love, loneliness, and loss. Thus realistic portraits emerge of today’s complex world of young adults in the style of Salinger and Chandler. Kevin Brooks’ highly praised novel »Lucas« appeared in 2003: on a small island off the English coast, a stranger appears from nowhere – Lucas. Cait, the 15-year-old narrator, is fascinated by him from the beginning and defends him unconditionally when the islanders treat the mysterious teen with disapproval and undisguised hatred. In the claustrophobic setting of the small island, a series of events leads to an unexpected conclusion and a life-and-death struggle. »It is the kind of book that makes you sit in silence after you have read the last pages«, the »Sunday Times« commented. With »Kissing the Rain« (2004), the author once again gives us an unsettling thriller about truth and lies. Breathless and uncouth, tearing the text apart with capitalization and slangy outbursts, Moo relates angrily and fearfully how, as the only witness to a crime, he’s gotten himself in over his head. »It’s not easy to like Moo; but to ignore him when he speaks is unthinkable. […] His story won’t be forgotten,« said the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«.

Kevin Brooks, whose books are published in America and Europe, has received a number of international accolades. For »Lucas« he was awarded the German Youth Literature Prize (2006). »Road of the Dead« (2006) was shortlisted for the Edgar Allan Poe Award (2007) and the Carnegie Medal (2007). In addition, the author was nominated three times for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. Brooks is married and lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

© international literature festival berlin