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Jenny Diski - book author

Jenny Diski was a British writer. Diski was a prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction articles, reviews and books. She was awarded the 2003 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking around America With Interruptions.

Jenny Diski is the author of books: Skating to Antarctica, Stranger on a Train, In Gratitude, The Vanishing Princess, Nothing Natural, The Sixties, On Trying to Keep Still, What I Don't Know about Animals, Apology for the Woman Writing, Only Human: A Divine Comedy

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01
'This strange and brilliant book recounts Jenny Diski's journey to Antarctica last year, intercut with another journey into her own heart and soul...a book of dazzling variety, which weaves disquisitions on indolence, truth, inconsistency, ambiguousness, the elephant seal, Shackleton, boredom and over and over again memory, into a sparse narrative, caustic observation and vivid description of the natural world. While Diski's writing is laconic, her images are haunting.' Elspeth Barker, Independent on Sunday
02
Using two cross-country trips on Amtrak as her narrative vehicles, British writer Jenny Diski connects the humming rails, taking her into the heart of America with the track-like scars leading back to her own past. As in the highly acclaimed Skating to Antarctica, Diski has created a seamless and seemingly effortless amalgam of reflections and revelation in a unique combination of travelogue and memoir.
03
The future flashed before my eyes in all its pre-ordained banality. Embarrassment, at first, to the exclusion of all other feelings. But embarrassment curled at the edges with a weariness …
I got a joke in.
“So – we'd better get cooking the meth,” I said to the Poet.

In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given “two or three years” to live. She didn't know how to react. All responses felt scripted, as if she were acting out her part. To find the response that felt wholly her own, she had to face the cliches and try to write about it. And there was another story to write, one she had not yet told: that of being taken in at age fifteen by the author Doris Lessing, and the subsequent fifty years of their complex relationship.

In the pages of the London Review of Books, to which Diski contributed for the last quarter century, she unraveled her history with Lessing: the fairy-tale rescue as a teenager, the difficulties of being absorbed into an unfamiliar family, the modeling of a literary life. Swooping from one memory to the next-alighting on the hysterical battlefield of her parental home, her expulsion from school, the drug-taking twenty-something in and out of psychiatric hospitals -- and telling all through the lens of living with terminal cancer, through what she knows will be her final months, Diski paints a portrait of two extraordinary writers -- Lessing and herself.

From a wholly original thinker comes a book like no other: a cerebral, witty, dazzlingly candid masterpiece about an uneasy relationship; about memory and writing, ingratitude and anger; about living with illness and facing death.
04
WITH A PREFACE BY HEIDI JULAVITS, AUTHOR OF THE FOLDED CLOCK

The only story collection from the beloved Jenny Diski—darkly funny, subversive, sexy, and eccentric tales from one of the most original and intelligent voices of our time
 
“Mordant and talon-sharp.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times, on Jenny Diski

 Description

 Jenny Diski’s prose is as sharp and steely as her imagination is wild and wondrous. When she died of cancer in April 2016, after chronicling her illness in strikingly honest essays in the London Review of Books, readers, admirers, and critics around the world mourned the loss. In a cool and unflinching tone that came to define her singular voice, she explored the subjects of sex, power, domesticity, femininity, hysteria, and loneliness with humor and honesty,

 The stories in The Vanishing Princess showcase a rarely seen side of this beloved writer, channeling both the piercing social examination of her nonfiction and the vivid, dreamlike landscapes of her novels. In a Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale turned on its head, a miller’s daughter rises to power and wealth to rule over her kingdom and outwit the title villain. “Bathtime” tells the story of a woman’s life through her attempts to build the perfect bathtub, chasing an elusive moment of peace. In “Short Curcuit,” the author mines her own bouts in and out of mental institutions outside London to question whether those we think are mad are really the sanest among us.

 Longtime fans of Diski and those who have discovered her since her death will find much to treasure here, in her only short story collection, released in the US for the very first time. The Vanishing Princess is another vital stop on Jenny Diski’s journey for meaning and beauty in her prolific writing, one that feels as fresh and necessary as if it were brand-new.
05
Rachel is in her thirties, a single parent admired by her friends for her self-sufficiency. But when she meets the compelling, sinister Joshua she discovers another side to herself. In a sense which horrifies her, she has found herself.
06
A brilliant, alternative take on sixties swinging London, Jenny Diski offers radical reconsiderations of the social, political, and personal meaning of that turbulent era.

What was Jenny Diski doing in the sixties? A lot: dropping out, taking drugs, buying clothes, having sex, demonstrating, and spending time in mental hospitals. Now, as Diski herself turns sixty years old, she examines what has been lost in the purple haze of nostalgia and selective memory of that era, what endures, and what has always been the same. From the vantage point of London, she takes stock of the Sexual Revolution, the fashion, the drug culture, and the psychiatric movements and education systems of the day. What she discovers is that the ideas of the sixties often paved the way for their antithesis, and that by confusing liberation and libertarianism, a new kind of radicalism would take over both in the UK and America.

Witty, provocative, and gorgeously written, Jenny Diski promises to feed your head with new insights about everything that was, and is, the sixties.
09
Marie de Gournay was eighteen when she read, and was overwhelmed by, the essays of the French philosopher Montaigne. She had to be revived with hellebore. When she finally met Montaigne, she stabbed herself with a hairpin until the blood ran in order to show her devotion. He made her his adopted daughter for the two months they knew each other. He died four years later, after which, though scorned by intellectuals, she became his editor. Jenny Diski engages with this passionate and confused relationship between 'father and daughter', old writer/young acolyte, possible lovers, using both their voices. Much of their story is about absence of the people they love. In Jenny Diski's hands it becomes a fascinating tale.
10
What if God fell in love and the person was already married? A bitter story of the very first love triangle between a man, his wife, and their God

First came Adam, whose fall soured His quest for absolute authority, then Noah, whose dreary sense of duty He found dull. God resolves for a third and final time to get it right, to select a vessel through whom He can direct human affairs, and to whom He can communicate directly His will. He chooses a solitary figure whose trust must be wooed, but whose faith, once secured, will surely reflect even greater glory and love. Were matters only that simple. In Only Human, Jenny Diski's brilliant and affecting retelling of the Abraham and Sarah story, God learns that no man, chosen or not, is solitary, and that the bonds forged by the human heart are resilient even to divine commandment. Diski transforms an archetypal tale of Old Testament obedience into a fierce love triangle, a test of wills over not only mankind's future, but over who will tell the story of its past.