22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

William Sutcliffe

Portrait William Sutcliffe
© Hartwig Klappert

William Sutcliffe was born in London in 1971. From the age of 16, after reading Ian McEwan’s novel »The Cement Garden« (1978), he began to feel that he wanted to be a writer. Sutcliffe studied English at Cambridge and penned a number of scripts for the Footlights Dramatic Club from which the comic group Monty Python originated.After finishing his studies, he published his first novel »New Boy« (1996), a shrewdly observed and humorous story about everyday life at school in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. Sutcliffe’s second novel »Are You Experienced?« (1997) was an international success. The book is about a group of young British backpackers on a journey to India. Sutcliffe has a keen awareness of how British youths think and express themselves; furthermore he is conscious of the fact that travel doesn’t always educate or expand one’s consciousness. His cynical as well as refreshing holding to account of what the backpacker community imagines travelling to be about became a cult novel, not just among backpackers. »The Wall« (2013), Sutcliffe’s first novel for teenagers, tells the story of 13-year old Joshua who lives in a fictitious town, Amarias, which closely resembles Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Amarias is protected by a high wall. He has been taught that a brutal enemy resides in the land on the other side, but after finding a tunnel, he discovers that the world beyond the wall is not the place he’s been led to expect. »The Wall« is a coming of age story which, in a rich literary form, weaves issues like radical fanaticism and religious delusion into the storyline and doesn’t pretend to have quick answers for complex questions. Following a suggestion by his wife, Sutcliffe followed this with a funny novel for younger children (8–12): »Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom« (2014), the story of Hannah who has to put a stop to a circus full of criminals. The book is filled to the brim with cranky, brilliantly portrayed characters and follows the tradition of the over-the-edge, dark-humoured stories of Roald Dahl or Dr Seuss. Formally speaking, the book also stands out thanks to its wild illustrations by David Tazzyman, its ingenious play with footnotes and its direct way of addressing the reader.So far, Sutcliffe has written seven novels, two of them for young readers. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages. In 2014 he was nominated for the prestigious Carnegie medal. Sutcliffe lives with his wife and three children in Edinburgh.