Jonathan Coe belongs to that gifted British literary generation, including authors such as Amis, Barnes, McEwan, Ishiguro and Rushdie. Ever since his breakthrough novel ‘What a carve up!’ in 1994 – described by Rodrigo Fresán as «an approximation to the atmospheres of Evelyn Waugh filmed by a Terry Gilliam in the midst of the Thatcher era» – Coe has tried to understand his country through satire. He does so with a wistful tone that at times resembles nostalgia while pointing to the latter as one of the ailments of the English society he is writing about. It is a glimpse at the past more closely related to two of his passions alongside literature: music and film. Coe has himself become a professional musician and has collaborated on a number of musical projects. He has also written unforgettable characters dedicated to music: Benjamin Trotter in ‘The Closed Circle’ or, more recently, Calista Frangopoulou in ‘Mr. Wilder and Me‘, his latest novel. This book brings together his three great loves. It features a fictional Billy Wilder based on the filmmaker, who was his «first literary influence». This Wilderian heritage could explain another constant in Coe’s literature: the wise combination of humour, darkness and pain. Perhaps this is why one of his characters says in ‘Middle England’: «Whatever is truly funny always shows the truth».
English with simultaneous translation.
Invitations can be downloaded from 24 September.
Book signing after the event.