Nicholson is often described as a writer of black humour or even surrealism, which is, indeed, the case but there is more to his writing than just black humour. Firstly, he is, of course, a mystery writer. But what makes him interesting is the two main themes I see in his writing. The first one is how we all try to make patterns of often irrational events in our lives. This is not, of course, a new theme in literature. Indeed, it is one of literature’s main themes. Nicholson, however, takes this a little bit further by making it a key theme of his books. In this respect (though in no other!) he is bit like Paul Auster who is also concerned with discerning the hidden patterns in life. We can see this clearly for example in the knot garden in The Knot Garden as well as in the map of London in Bleeding London. The other theme that Nicholson is concerned with is how we all go through life without really having much idea what is happening not only around us but to us. Most of his heroes are completely in the dark as to what is happening and drift around, completely lost.
Of course, this not all that Nicholson is about. He pokes fun at obsessions, whether it is car obsessions as in Still Life with Volkswagens or food obsessions in The Food Chain. Nazis and skinheads, the idle rich, Americans, the overly ambitious, the police – all are targets for Nicholson’s humour. Some Americans have complained that Nicholson is “too British”. That, my dears, is his charm.
Nicholson was born in Sheffield in 1953. He studied at the universities of Cambridge and Essex. As well as novels, he has written non-fiction and short stories.
1987 Street Sleeper (novel)
1989 The Knot Garden (novel)
1990 What We Did On our Holidays (novel)
1991 Big Noises (music)
1992 Day Trips to the Desert (travel)
1992 Hunters & Gatherers (novel)
1992 The Food Chain (novel)
1993 The Errol Flynn Novel (novel)
1994 Everything and More (novel)
1994 Still Life with Volkswagens (novel)
1995 Footsucker (novel)
1997 Bleeding London (novel)
1998 Flesh Guitar (novel)
1999 Female Ruins (novel)
2001 Bedlam Burning (novel)
2004 Hollywood Dodo (novel)
2006 Sex Collectors (non-fiction)
2008 The Lost Art of Walking (non-fiction)
2009 Gravity’s Volkswagen (novel)
2014 The City Under the Skin (novel)
2017 The Miranda (novel)