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Francis Plug is a troubled and often drunk misfit who causes chaos and confusion wherever he goes—and where he most likes to go is to real author events, collecting signatures from the likes of Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Eleanor Catton. As he adds to this collection of signed Booker first editions, Francis—a wannabe author himself—is also helpfully writing a self-help manual. Devised with the novice writer in mind, it is full of sage wisdom and useful tidbits to help ease freshly published novelists into the demands and rigors of author events, readings and general life in the public eye.
If you’re provided with a hands-free mic, clipped to your lapel, don’t forget to turn it off when you visit the toilet, or if you need to vomit before your event. Likewise, it’s always good to be wary of the germs of fans—and considering the use of elbow-length dishwashing gloves at book signings, and a large, easy-wipe kitchen apron.
And so too, cultivating a photographic ‘look’ for the many publicity shots you will be subjected to is also a good idea—Francis’s personal choice being that of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. With advice like this, and Francis’ warm and deranged personality, How to Be a Public Author will prove essential reading for anyone with an interest in the literary world.
The Man Booker Prize becomes a springboard to explore what it means to be an author—and a human being—in the twenty-first century. This novel is certain to be one of the main talking points when the Man Booker Prize is discussed this year, as well as one that will endure long after the controversies have died down. It is an exceptional piece of writing—a novel that readers will love and return to, time and time again.
‘One thinks of Goethe: one thinks of Shelley: one thinks of Plug. He is a force of nature, he is sage, bard and prophet: he is in addition a random menace, and at all times you need to know exactly where he is. They say there are no statues to critics. But the fourth plinth awaits Francis. Perhaps he can be chained to it.’ Hilary Mantel
‘For those with a taste for dark, unpredictable and sometimes surreal comedy, this is a book of invigorating originality and the character of Francis Plug himself a creation of twisted genius.’
‘Francis Plug is a brilliant, deranged new comic creation by the unknown writer Paul Ewen…he has created an extraordinary alter ego in the mentally unusual Plug.’
‘A wonderful survey of the strange world of famous authors…Plug’s exchanges with dozens of Booker-prizewinning authors are priceless. But the novel (really an ingenious hybrid of fact and surreal fantasy) takes on much extra resonance in the portrayal of Plug himself, an alcoholic chancer with a propensity for whisky-fuelled escapades.’
‘One of the funniest books I’ve ever read.’
‘So funny you find yourself giggling helplessly long after you’ve passed the joke…Pure—and purely pleasurable— silliness.’
‘It is becoming a cliché to say, “Paul Ewen is a comic genius and Francis Plug: How to Be a Public Author is the funniest book in years”—but it’s no less true…It might come across as a gentle satire on book folk but Vanity with a capital V also gets an entirely hilarious kicking.’
‘Rambunctious and witty…it’ll tickle anyone’s funnybone.’
‘One thinks of Goethe: one thinks of Shelley: one thinks of Plug. He is a force of nature, he is sage, bard and prophet: he is in addition a random menace, and at all times you need to know exactly where he is. They say there are no statues to critics. But the fourth plinth awaits Francis. Perhaps he can be chained to it.’