Lively has put forth a daring premise in his remarkable first novel--what would happen if an 18th-century Englishman, a young ship's surgeon on a South Seas whaler, was put ashore in the strange land of 20th-century New York, the neighborhood of Harlem?
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Adam Lively was born in Swansea in 1961 and studied history in England and America. He has published the novels Blue Fruit (1988) and The Burnt House (in 1989), a novella The Snail (1991), and a pamphlet in Chatto Counterblasts series, Parliament: The Great British Democracy Swindle (1990). His work has also appeared in the anthologies 20 under 35, P.E.N. New Poetry II and The Dylan Companion. Selected as one of the Best Young British Novelists in 1993, his novel Sing the Body Electric is published by Chatto & Windus. He lives in London with his wife Diana, and their children Jacob and Anne.From Publishers Weekly:
Lively's first novel (originally published and very well received in England) celebrates jazz in unique and intriguing ways. In 1787, John Fields, an English ship's doctor, is sailing on a whaler in the South Seas. A classically trained violinist, he is scorned by crew members, so he jumps ship, unaware that a time warp has plunged him into the 20th century. Walking miles inland, he stumbles on train tracks, which lead him to a freight yard where he is discovered by two railroad employees the following morning. Eldridge, one of the workers, takes pity on the stranded Englishman and invites Fields to his dilapidated house in Harlem which he shares with his mother, his sister May and his brother Tommy, a jazz musician. Living with this contemporary black family, Fields plays violin in Tommy's jazz group, but the bleak urban landscape begins to wear him down. He's offered a job in "information processing" but eventually finds its rules as oppressive as the poverty he's trying to escape. Fields also misses the healing properties of music. Written in the form of a letter to Fields's father back in 18th century England, the novel uses brilliant descriptive prose to capture the mood, movement, and feeling of jazz, and conveys as well the tension and repressions affecting blacks and whites in contemporary society. Although the dramatic momentum flags near the end, and poverty itself is naively romanticized, this is an impressive, often dazzling, debut.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0671655345