Monday, April 26, 2010

Alan Sillitoe 1928-2010

The author Alan Sillitoe has died at the age of 82, reports BBC News.

There are obituaries and appreciations in The Times, The Telegraph, The New York Times and by Richard Bradford in The Guardian.
Before reaching Jeffrey Simmons, chief commissioning editor of WH Allen, the typescript of [Saturday Night and Sunday Morning] had been rejected by five mainstream publishing houses. None was disappointed by the quality of the work, but each – notably Tom Maschler – proclaimed that Sillitoe's representations of working-class existence were based upon a bizarre dystopian hypothesis. When the novel came out the critics disagreed, as did the impresario Harry Saltzman, who sponsored Karel Reisz as director of the 1960 film adaptation, with Sillitoe as scriptwriter. Starring Albert Finney as Seaton, a young Nottingham factory worker who has an affair with the wife of a colleague, it became a landmark in the British New Wave.
BBC News has a collection of readers' reflections on Sillitoe's work.
I was a student at Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln. Whilst studying there, Glyn Hughes was the Writer in Residence and he organised a series of visiting authors. Alan Sillitoe was one such author and I remember him as an unassuming, humble but passionate man. He read out a short story about a headless chicken which was both startling and hilarious. He read out extracts from other things he had written and I thought he was inspirational. The story of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was simple but hugely powerful. I am sorry to hear of Alan Sillitoe's passing. He was a quiet genius.

Des O'Byrne, Hindhead

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