Press

Shackleton’s Man Goes South (novel, Science Museum)

Shackleton’s Man Goes South, cover jpeg

The novel: not heading south, any time soon. Tony White’s collaborations show that in the changing world of publishing, opportunities are still there for the innovative author […] Now the Science Museum has published a new book, and its first novel: Shackleton’s Man Goes South. At heart a book about climate change, it’s also, says White, “a kind of alternative history of publishing in extremis, examples of the apparent human necessity of finding new ways to tell and share stories, and how the future of writing, publishing and reading might need to be as much in the low-tech past as the hi-tech present”. James Bridle, The Observer

… certainly the most distinctive and formally creative novel I’ve read this year. Niall Harrison, Strange Horizons

… a triumph of controlled anger. Part fiction, part historical narrative, part science journalism, Shackleton’s Man Goes South depicts an adventure as magnificent and dreadful as Scott’s or Shackleton’s. [...] this is a book about going forwards by going back. Characters in the future echo those from the past; as clues from fossils and ice cores tell us about a warmer past, and hint at the future. In that future, the climate refugee Emily flees south to supposed safety in the company of the complex and conflicted human trafficker Browning. Meanwhile, White skilfully conducts a parallel journey through conversations and interviews with contemporary scientists […] The world of the future, Emily’s world, depends on what happens in the present. Get this wrong and we’re all going South. It’s not often that fiction, a novel, genuinely manages to shock. There’s a kind of madness in this angry, passionate and vivid book. Tony White has synthesised his own small enlightenment […] So much for realism. White’s brutally fascinating story of past, present, and future feels far more solid. David Gullen, ‘We’re reading SHACKLETON’S MAN GOES SOUTH by Tony White’, Arcfinity / New Scientist’s Arc journal, 29 May 2013

The Science Museum has published its first ever work of fiction, a novel by its former writer-in-residence Tony White that was inspired by a lost fragment by one of the members of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated 1911 Antarctic expedition – one of the earliest tales ever to mention climate change. White, a critically acclaimed novelist, was researching the expedition when he stumbled across the fragments of a story by George Clarke Simpson written for the “South Polar Times”, the homemade newspaper that was passed around on Scott’s journey to the south pole.  Alison Flood, Science Museum publishes climate change novel’, the Guardian, 26 April 2013

White maintains a steady hand to distinguish vision from empirical data [...] avoids the vulgarity and conviction of argument, annoys enemies with tinctures of understanding and is old enough by now to not know everything. An obligate limelight spoils certain writers. White works away from anything like that in a positive underground. White has produced something about climate change and its political, existential freight with the same mysterious qualities of ‘The House on the Borderline’ [sic.]. White’s concern is whether science can tell the right stories. [...] The book’s weird earnest zest reminds me of the ‘Quatermass’ movies and the novels of Michael Moorcock. It has an expansive note, like a quarreling genius. I like the ramifying notes and its continuing recrudescence. But it carries a soft whispering sound of torture, drones, heat death, poverty and rape in its muted cleave. Richard Marshall, 3am Magazine, 23 April 2013

El mundo es un caos. El cambio climático ha derretido los Polos y forzado a cientos de miles de personas, entre ellas Emily y su hija Jenny, a huir a la Antártida, convertida en un continente verde y frondoso. Este es el argumento de la primera novela de ficción publicada por el Museo de Ciencia de Londres. Su autor, Tony White, aborda cómo el cambio climático puede remodelar el mundo actual y afectar a la política, la sociedad y la cultura. Cristina Gallardo, Gravedad Cero (Madrid), 30 April 2013

With Shackleton’s Man Goes South, Tony White has written a bold novel-cum-manifesto, a prophecy, satire, and warning, and a gripping polar allegory for the era of global warming and human trafficking. In the steps of Swift, Blake and Aldous Huxley, he brings a puzzlemaster’s ingenuity, a political observer’s despair, a voracious appetite for geo-political knowledge and a storyteller’s sense to create a stark vision of a future that may be coming sooner than anyone can bear to think.  Marina Warner

not so much a novel as an assemblage [...] There is little here to excite or enrage […] Of course, there are points White is very keen to make, but he destroys his fiction to do it. […] masterfully understated, building a growing sense of horror that this is not really fiction […] And there is one more wrinkle to come—a found text inside this text in the British Library. This new text is the “so called ‘High Seas Memorandum’ of celebrated 21st-century humanitarian and anti-torture campaigner John C. Yoo” (p. 151). It is a clear and definite argument against all forms of torture, describing it as any “intentional acts such as those designed to damage and destroy the human personality” (p. 154). This document, as published, is a hugely powerful indictment, a strong statement despite the black marks of lost detail throughout it. But the headings confuse. This appears to be from the U.S. Department of Justice, and is dated March 14th, 2003. Gradually, the recognition comes that this is a constructed document, that the “lost text” is redaction, that White has taken a document which infamously condones torture and reversed the meaning; that “Torture is torture is torture” (p. 155) […] The final chapter is powerful, but unearned, disconnected from the bulk of the text before it. There is a temptation to peer at this book from the same direction as David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004); there are multiple fascinating images here, but it never becomes a single work and the fiction lacks the courage of its convictions, unable to accept its own suspension of disbelief. Duncan Lawie, Strange Horizons

I was reminded of Tony White’s method in Shackleton’s Man Goes South (published by the Science Museum), which intercuts fictional and non-fictional sections in a technique which is really ‘critical/creative’, appropriating the forms of British disaster fiction (and making explicit references to Michael Moorcock’s own re-writings of the form of the scientific romance in the Nomads trilogy) to make an explicitly political point about climate change. @SciFiBaker, (SF) 365

The work is an indictment against indifference, critical of the blind eye society turns to issues such as human trafficking and the aggregation of waste in the environment. It aims to personalise the climate change rhetoric […] “The novel is an artistic response to climate change,” said White. “But everything’s based on issues that are happening now.” […] White’s novel is structured with a converging dual narrative in which a fact-based strand telling of the discovery of an “overlooked” short story, written in 1911 by polar explorer and scientist George Clarke Simpson, plays off and adds tension to what White calls the “melodrama”, a tale of refugees fleeing south, who are undertaking Shackleton’s journey in reverse. […] The dual structure reflects White’s belief that science and human experience are inextricably linked  Platform

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Foxy-T (novel, Faber and Faber)

Selected press 2003-2014. Buy Foxy-T from The Book Depository.

Tony White’s last “traditional” novel was published by Faber in 2003 – that is, traditional in its form and distribution. Michael Moorcock, writing in the Guardian, said that Foxy-T, a story about call shops and kids in the East End of London, proved that the contemporary novel “has never been more alive”. Its riot of street slang and Bengali-cockney idiom expressed the hybrid modernity of the contemporary city. But White’s work since has been anything but traditional, and even more contemporary. Observer, 9 February 2014

Tony White, whose 2003 novel, Foxy-T, which dramatises East End life using the hybrid, and ever evolving language that surrounded him, defends vernacular fiction from charges of inaccessibility. [...] ‘I actually want to read literature that engages with the way that language is evolving, not one that reinforces a fixed idea of what the English language and writing is, or can be. None of us have a monopoly on that.’ Arifa Akbar, Independent

This is, in fact, the best book that has ever been written about Brick Lane. No doubt it would have won lots of prizes if the author had had a slightly different name. Anyway, it is about a community really, but it is based around two girls who work in a telephone and computer place off Cannon Street Road, the E-Z Call phone shop. There are all these dubious characters coming in who are out of young offenders institutes or whatever, people from the Bangladeshi community, and it’s really about the progress of these two girls, and the whole book is written in Bangladeshi idiom. It takes a while to get into, but then you do get into it and it’s an amazing tour de force. Roy Moxham, ‘Five Books’, The Browser

…this affectionate tale may tell you more about love, longing and ambition in the inner city than a dozen official reports. Indeed, some readers would argue that it captures the flavour of Asian lives in London E1 with more inside-track relish than another novel of 2003: Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. Boyd Tonkin, Independent

There have been a few East London books — Manzu Islam’s Burrow, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Farrukh Dhondy’s East End At Your Feet, there’s Claire Alexander’s sociological The Asian Gang; and there are more laddist, wide-boy fictions around — Londonstani, of course (though that’s about Hounslow) [...] The book I like best is Tony White’s Foxy-T. Ventriloquism among the Cannon Street xeroxing machines, innit? Sukhdev Sandhu, 3am

Foxy-T was named last week on a list of lost masterpieces deserving a larger audience. By contrast, Londonstani secured its author a £300,000 advance and was, before the reviews, set to be the literary sensation of the year. Two novels, two very different receptions. This could simply be because one book is very good and the other rather poor; my suspicion is that it is related to the fact that Foxy-T was written by Tony White, who is white. Sarfraz Manzoor, Observer

“What’s your favourite British novel from the past ten years?” The other day I was with a group of friends, and someone posed this question. A few fairly obvious titles were suggested, which gave me time to think. And when it came my turn to speak, I said, “Foxy T by Tony White”. Toby Litt, Guardian

In Foxy-T he excels himself. [...] With vivid economy White describes young Bangladeshis’ domestic, business and street life in intelligent, beautifully sustained prose. Coherent and compelling, the novel has a wonderful, if slightly tricky, denouement which made me grin with surprised admiration. Rejecting familiar influences of the past 20 years, White joins a handful of contemporary writers who are proving that the novel has never been more alive. He is a serious, engaging voice of the modern city. Michael Moorcock, Guardian

One of this year’s key novels [...] an ingenious, beautifully crafted, thrillingly contemporary love story set in the Bangladeshi east end and narrated in that area’s distinctive patois [...] A complex, clever book whose future status as a GCSE set text must be assured. Time Out

[...] there’s a strong element of “I couldn’t put it down”, built into this book [which] goes much further than just looking at a supposed bit of low culture – this is a London book, a genre or sub-genre which includes Ian Sinclair, Martin Amis, Peter Ackroyd, Victor Headley, Colin MacInnes and most significantly in this context, Monica Ali. [...] Linguistically solid, Tony White should also be nominated for the Ian Dury award for zero use of fake Cockney rhyming slang. David Cunningham, Robertfripp.com

This is the real sound of the East End, and it deserves to be recognised. Hussain Ismail, The Lip Magazine

Foxy-T is a wonderful account of sexual obsession, the realities of life outside of the regeneration bubble and the experiences of second-generation Asian families, all told through White’s cunning eye for psychogeographic and linguistic detail. Init? 3am Magazine

[...] one of Tony White’s real strengths [...] he has managed a sustained, 230-page narrative rendered entirely in “Banglish,” the soupy mix of English, Cockney and Bangladeshi spoken by the first-generation East End Londoner children of Bangladeshi immigrants. For many readers, this will probably seem almost impenetrable at first, but it is surprising how quickly and how easily it becomes transparent, like the Scottish of Irvine Welsh’s trainspotters or the Irish of Roddy Doyle’s Rabbits. Bookslut

A generous, tolerant and moving book. Through his incredibly sustained and convincing experiment in vernacular, White has fashioned an unusual and very welcome novel. At the core of this unique literary experience, lies a big, wide heart, always sweetly beating. Niall Griffiths

In his new novel Foxy-T, Tony White writes the urban contemporary in perfect modern English: a broken-rhythmic patois that has nothing to do with the Literacy Hour and everything to do with real words coming out of real mouths. What’s more, unlike so much of the hard/urban/gritty ‘realism’ being traded at the moment, his is also a sweet and sad love story that stars real girls, instead of wish fulfilment faux-chicks. Truly impressive. Stella Duffy

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Albertopolis Disparu (A Science Museum Booklet)

**Print edition now unobtainable** N.B. ‘Albertopolis Disparu’ became the opening chapter of the novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South, also published by the Science Museum.

Weirdly Brilliant Steampunk Thing. Anyone who loves alternative versions of London a la Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore should get their hands on Albertopolis Disparu, a short story available for free at the Science Museum. It’s a densely-laden tale of secret machines, converted turrets and tunnels and Edwardian techno-espionage, played out over the rooftops and catacombs of Exhibition Road. Any eight-page story that references Michael Moorcock and ends with a fleet of Zeppelins attacking Imperial College with plasma weapons is a winner with us. The campaign starts here to persuade the author, Tony White, to turn this into a full-length novel. Londonist

White uses primary texts to create his secondary ones and overtly cites five sources, plus the James Colvin ‘Terminal Session’ triple bluff that cavorts back to the great Michael Moorcock who started it in the first place and then back again (which adds up to three) plus the ‘listening post’ pothook of the South Kensington Science Museum plus the American Technical Society of 1911 publication. It might be a story but more likely it merely reads like one to the casual peruse. [...] White is a killer. He’s the deal. Richard Marshall, 3am Magazine

Albertopolis Disparu startet mit einer Referenz an Michael Moorcock und endet mit einer Flotte Zeppeline, die mit Plasmawaffen angreifen, was will man mehr? Clockworker

White says he saw the residency as ‘a means to reflect on the kinds of stories that the Science Museum tells the world about itself, about its collections’ [...] While in residence White organised workshops and used the Museum’s resources to help situate his story. [Albertopolis Disparu] offered new means of thinking about science as a cultural activity, created a community of writers with similar interests and offered the public a free and unusual opportunity. Museums Journal

Albertopolis Disparu [...] was published as ‘A Science Museum booklet’, a disused publishing imprint that [White] discovered in the Museum’s archives and which the Museum revived for the occasion. 5,000 copies were printed and distributed for free via a dedicated display in the Museum, at accompanying events and at a Victorian cabman’s shelter in South Kensington (local publishers used to distribute free books and newspapers to cab drivers at these shelters). Urban Words

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Another Fool in the Balkans (nonfiction, Cadogan)

Currently out of print. Buy Another Fool in the Balkans from Abe Books.

This highly intelligent book is required reading for anyone interested in the changing face of Europe and how a culture redefines itself after a decade of war. Sunday Telegraph

Another Fool in the Balkans, as the title suggests, does not come to sweeping conclusions, but as far as it goes – it helps clear some of the murk surrounding the region, just as West’s travelogue did more than sixty years ago. Times Literary Supplement

White’s profoundly fascinating, highly idiosyncratic book celebrates the region and its culture […] This is no conventional travel book, though he does have a way of making you yearn to taste the region’s food and wine, and his novelist’s sense of character brings even the simplest taxi-driver to life […] White not only makes you want to pack a bag and leave immediately for Belgrade or Istrea [sic.], he has captured the confusion and courage of those who have survived with their souls and their idealism intact. Daily Telegraph

[White has] a fair eye for detail. His style is brisk and accessible, and his affection for the countries he writes about is clear. White’s travels make for a good read. Adam LeBor, New Statesman

White writes beautifully and I enjoyed following his escapades throughout the country
[...] I laughed out loud often […] White knows his history. He’s a fine writer. Janine di Giovanni, Scotsman

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Charlieunclenorfolktango (novel, Codex Books)

Currently out of print. Buy Charlieunclenorfolktango from Abe Books.

[...] the marginal but intriguing terrain of avant-pulp. It’s here that writers such as Tony White (CharlieUncleNorfolkTango) [sic.], Stewart Home (Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton) and Peter Sotos (Index) channel the energy and drive of pornography, the skinhead paperbacks of Richard Allen and the cartoon anarchism of Leo Baxendale’s Beano comics to escape the stylistic and rhetorical corsets of the metropolitan novel. Sukhdev Sandhu, Telegraph

These days, if you want innovation in crime fiction, you’re better off looking closer to home. Tony White’s Charlieunclenorfolktango sure as hell stands out from the norm. Imagine a cross between Clockwork Orange and Irvine Welsh’s Filth, and you’ll be somewhere close. Written in phonetic cockney geezer-speak and narrated by hell’s own copper [...] there’s a berserk comic energy present that bodes well for White’s future. John Williams, Time Out

Charlieunclenorfolktango is a bizarre, depressing and unreadable book [...] The gimmick is that the book is a monologue narrated entirely in phonetically spelled one-sentence paragraphs: ‘Coz yew gotta wav fuckin coppers in this weld ain chew eh.’ There are also strangely formal rhetorical set-pieces – notably a list of 50 ways a  ‘mad fuckin killer’ could have murdered you if there weren’t any police [...] There’s also a comic scene involving a grindingly costive variant of the ‘my dog’s got no nose’ gag [...] Most irritating of all, though, there’s a tirelessly reiterated opposition of the lights of civilisation and the ‘dark playsiz’, ‘playsiz ware the bryte lytes don’t reech’. ‘Patrollin the edges a the fuckin nyte’, Lockie concludes that ‘iss a ryte ole bastardin weld a lyte and shadders ain it,’ and muses on ‘ow blokes & birds on Erf can keep the dark dark nyte at bay’. Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

Still trying to struggle through Irvine Welsh’s Filth? Give yourself a break, toss it and pick up this little number. The Rozzers, for it is they, are busy beating the living shite out of crims, driving around in a riot van, and being abducted by aliens. You are guaranteed to laugh or at least darkly smirk your face off as they muse philosophically on life the universe and what blokes and birds do. The Source

Charlieunclenorfolktango is contrived to ignite a reaction. Like an explosive concoction, this book threatens to unhinge our perception of normality and turn reality on its head. A political exercise in defamiliarisation. A highly satirical effort, White’s book throws us in at the deep end, making us work at extracting the meaning, shaking off complacency and taking a fresh look at ourselves. The Buzz

This is the most remarkable novel of alien abduction I’ve ever read. The entire book is written in a phonetic, verbal style, making it read as utterly brutal but darkly hilarious at the same time, and the strange thoughts that occur to the intellectually stunted Lockie make him a tragic figure, surrounded by sinister undercurrents. Every sentence is punctuated by filth, in that casual way that only the truly foul-mouthed can pull off successfully [...] you can’t deny that this book is an original. Front

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Satan! Satan! Satan! (novella, Attack Books)

Currently out of print. Buy Satan! Satan! Satan! from Abe Books.

As the author of crusty classic Road Rage, Tony White is sufficiently experienced to have written a real page-turner in Satan! Satan! Satan!, complete with comprehensible plot and trusty Northern vowels. He reincarnates Jim Jones as leader of a corrupt, happy-clappy Christian sect secretly devoted to micturition and buggery. In opposition is a fictional version of one of those mad Norwegian death metal bands who get too serious and start burning churches and murdering fellow musicians. Jonestown is re-enacted in Whitby where Dracula’s heinous legacy can be evoked. Intertextual, eldritch and demented, with a true occult edge, this would have made me delirious with dangerous joy were I still a teen ur-Goth. Elizabeth Young, Guardian

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Road Rage! (novella, Low Life Books)

Currently out of print. Buy Road Rage! from Abe Books.

Who would have guessed that Richard Allen’s range of ’70s bootboy novels would have proved so influential? First Stewart Home samples the speed and aggression in order to turn round the political message and make the link with Burroughs and Blake; then Victor Headley steals a few riffs to draw up a map of the Black Atlantic in London. [...] what subculture could be appropriated next? Tony White’s Road Rage makes it clear. Mixing psycho-social realism and techno-pagan fantasy, Tony White stakes out a position between Stewart Home and Martin Millar to offer a vision of London which is romantic, revolutionary [...] This is a signpost to the fantastic worlds of a Michael Moorcock or an Alan Garner, and it’ll be interesting to see what White does next. i-D magazine

The dawn of the crusty novel is upon us and you’d better be ready! Loaded

A potent mix of gritty realism a la Richard Allen, Celtic esoteric tomfoolery and DIY politics cemented with a keen sense of humour. Kinokaze

Falling somewhere between Michael Moorcock and Richard Allen, White’s debut as a novelist is quite startling. Not only is it well written, it’s immensely readable, completely sick and about as much fun as you can have without a puppy and a sharp stick. Melody Maker

Pulp fiction for crusties – what a horrible thought. Middle class and articulate, full of cider, dirty combat trousers, squats, dogs on strings, Celtic body art and other subcultural must-haves, this book is a waste of good trees, many of which will have been pulped (rather than occupied) in order for this to have been printed. The Big Issue

A pocket-sized piece of pulp fiction. I don’t want to give anything away, but this book is cleverer than it sounds. A quick and funny read. The Edge

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More clippings and cuttings coming soon…

One Trackback

  1. By Road Rage archive #1 « Piece of Paper Press on May 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    [...] Welcome|Free Beer|Selected Press| [...]

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