Joe Dunthorne & Philip Hensher talk to John Mullan

Two of our most brilliant young novelists discuss their most recent books with the academic and critic John Mullan.

Philip’s novel The Friendly Ones depicts multicultural life in Sheffield while Joe’s novel The Adulterants describes the lives of twenty-somethings in London who don’t want to grow up. Philip has in the past been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Joe’s first novel Submarine was turned into a critically-acclaimed film.

“Dunthorne is a superbly economical writer, and one with a poet’s sensibility. He is also properly funny. There are several snort-through-your-nose moments. But throughout, the novel’s comedy is always balanced by insight and poignancy

The Observer

Hensher is gifted with a great virtuosity and a relentless intelligence

The Guardian

Joe Dunthorne

Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea. He is the author of Submarine, which has been translated into fifteen languages and made into an acclaimed film directed by Richard Ayoade, and Wild Abandon, which won the 2012 Encore Award. A collection of his poetry is published as Faber New Poets 5. He lives in London and The Adulterants is his third novel.

Philip Hensher

Philip Hensher was born in London in 1965. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, where he wrote a PhD on eighteenth-century English painting and satire. From 1990 to 1996 he was a House of Commons clerk. His books include Other Lulus (1994), Kitchen Venom (1996), which won the Somerset Maugham award, Pleasured (1998), The Bedroom of the Mister’s Wife (1999), The Mulberry Empire (2002), The Fit (2005), The Northern Clemency (2008), which was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, King of the Badgers (2011) and Scenes From Early Life (2012), which won the 2013 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and The Friendly Ones (2018). His collection of stories, Tales of Persuasion, was published by 4th Estate in 2016. Hensher edited The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume I & II, published in 2015 and The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story published in 2018. His most recent novel, A Small Revolution in Germany, was published by 4th Estate in 2020. He also wrote a libretto to Thomas Ades’ opera, Powder Her Face (1995), which has been performed across the world, recorded by EMI and filmed by Channel Four. He is a regular contributor to The Spectator, The Independent, and other English newspapers. Hensher was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1998, and is on the Council of the Society. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and lives in London.

John Mullan

John Mullan studied for his BA and PhD at the University of Cambridge. He was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge and a Lecturer at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before coming to UCL in 1994. He has been Professor of English since 2005, and was appointed Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature from 1st October 2016. He was General Editor of the Pickering & Chatto series Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, and Associate Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He is a regular TV and radio broadcaster and a literary journalist; he writes on contemporary fiction for the Guardian and was a judge for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.