Iain Sinclair is one of the most popular London writers in modern times, and this November his many readers have the opportunity to learn what makes him tick with the publication of My Favourite London Devils. Described by publisher Tangerine Press as ‘a delirious gathering of some of the writers, living and dead, who haunt Iain Sinclair and who inform his own London books’, here is a unique collection of writings that fuse history with memoir to lay out Sinclair’s many influences and enthusiasms.
The book is a collection of literary portraits, interviews and critiques both of and with the writers Sinclair admires. Included are established London authorities such as Peter Ackroyd, Michael Moorcock, JG Ballard and Angela Carter, alongside rediscovered writers like Patrick Hamilton and those who have fallen into obscurity, like Roland Camberton and Robert Westerby. Some of these writers he has met, some he has found through their books in second-hand street markets, some he discovered through the recommendations of librarians. The effect is a history of London told through the lives of its writers, and a fragmented autobiography of Iain Sinclair himself.
Known for his works of history and psychogeography, Sinclair has been a voice for London writing since the 70s, writing both poetry and prose that capture the essence of the city. His 2002 book London Orbital describes a walk around the M25 circling London, where he stumbles upon converted asylums, retail parks and lost villages. His bestselling 2009 book Hackney, That Rose Red Empire shows how the borough descended from a suburb of grand houses to a zone of chaos and crime. Any reader with an interest in London will likely have read Sinclair, and now those same readers will be able to read another compelling version of London’s past with My Favourite London Devils.
Likewise, any reader with an interest in literary history and criticism will find much to enjoy here. Seen through the lens of Sinclair’s personal enthusiasms, the writers included in London Devils come to life as he mixes factual biography with intimate thought. With a wonderfully evocative cover by Sandman artist Dave McKean, who has also provided illustrations for the book, London Devils is bound to be a popular choice this winter.
- Bill Godber, MD
My Favourite London Devils will be published on 17 November by Tangerine Press (£10, paperback, 208pp, 9781910691175)