Bloomsbury has just republished all eight of Rupert Thomson's novels. It's a brave move for a strangely undercelebrated writer. Perhaps his publisher's vote of confidence and the lack of attention Thomson seems to attract are due to his almost old-fashioned dedication to novel writing. These are chunky, thoughtful works, that perhaps only went slightly off course mid-career, with marketing-inspired Soft (1998) and The Book of Revelation (1999), which was made into a film with Greta Scacchi in 2006.
Thomson first came to attention in 1987 with Dreams of Leaving, his vision of a police-run village, New Egypt. There followed a terrific run - The Five Gates of Hell (1991) and Air & Fire (1993) - before probably my favourite work of his: The Insult (1996). It's a tremendous celebration of imagination: a blind man goes in search of the invisible man, who's disappeared!
I've written before about how his Divided Kingdom (2005) reflected my emotional history growing up, while Thomson's most recent work - The Party's Got to Stop (published by Granta), is a retelling of his own relationship with his brothers. Like Geoff Dyer, Thomson is in part inspired by living in different places - The Book of Revelation grew out of a stint in Amsterdam and more recently he moved to Barcelona. The Book was also reflected in his last novel, Death of a Murderer (2007), inspired by Myra Hindley, which he told me was another work about 'a man in a room'.
Nine books isn't a bad return over 25 years. His next, Secrecy - a historical novel set in Florence - is due next spring and I can't wait.