Yesterday I received an email that brought both my partner and I to an absolute standstill.
We've both been reading Graham Joyce for years, you see; Memoirs of a Master Forger was my first of his works, whilst the other half has had a passion for his ghostly prose since The Silent Land. Invariably, one of us will manage to bagsy his new book before the other does, such that it's become something of a game between us.
So the news that he has cancer, that he nearly died six months or so ago... let's say it cast a dark cloud over the remains of the day. Per the press release I received:
Graham Joyce received a standing ovation at the 1,000-strong awards ceremony of the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton on Sunday 2nd November 2013. Picking up the Best Fantasy Novel Award for an unprecedented sixth time in his career, Joyce was earlier this year diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma cancer. The event marked his first public appearance since his diagnosis.
Joyce won the Best Fantasy Novel Award for Some Kind Of Fairy Tale, a story in which a young girl thought to have been abducted from the woodlands of the East Midlands returns to her family after twenty years.
Six months ago Joyce had the experience of being revived by an emergency resuscitation team at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Joyce said, “Just being able to stand here today is a wonderful award, thanks to the doctors and nurses of the NHS.”
Inadequate as it is, I can only express how happy I am that the doctors and nurses of the NHS managed to bring the man back, and how sorely I hope that he has many more years of good health ahead.
In any event, I've seen a fair few folks express curiosity about his work since the bad news broke, and I'd love for them to discover him as the other half and I have, so I thought I'd gather together links to the reviews I've written of his books.
Here's what I had to say about The Silent Land.
Here are my thoughts on the book he won the Best Fantasy Novel Award at the weekend for.
And to top it all off, my most recent article for Strange Horizons was a glowing review of his new novel, The Year of the Ladybird:
Almost forty years on, the scorching summer of 1976 is remembered by many; however the relative tenor of the tale depends upon the perspective of the teller, very much in the mode of local legend. Some speak of it as a bastion of all that is great about Britain... or all that was, once. Others recall the summer as a season of suffering; of water shortages, hellish heat, economic depression, and — what with the National Front nearing the peak of its power — political volatility.
Each of these ideas has a part to play in Graham Joyce's new novel, but like the infamous insect invasion The Year of the Ladybird takes its evocative title from, they're in the background, by and large, adding if not narrative impact then immersive depth and telling texture to the text's redolent setting: a ramshackle holiday resort in a nation coming of age just as our protagonist David Barwise does over the course of this slight but delightful ghost story.
Graham Joyce is, in short, an awesome author: if you've been on the fence about his fiction, get the hell off it.
My thoughts, and my partner's, will be with him and his during this difficult time.