Alison MacLeod

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alison MacLeod is a Canadian-British literary fiction writer.[1][2][3] She is most noted for her 2013 novel Unexploded, a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Man Booker Prize,[4][5] and her 2017 short story collection All the Beloved Ghosts, a shortlisted finalist for the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction at the 2017 Governor General's Awards.[6][7] MacLeod is an occasional contributor to BBC Radio 4, the Sunday Times and the Guardian, and has appeared at numerous literary festivals in the UK and internationally.

Her debut novel The Changeling, 1996, is the story of the 18th-century historical figure, Anne Bonny, a cross-dressing woman who was sentenced to hang for piracy.[8][9] The Wave Theory of Angels, 2005, explored an actual 13th-century theological uproar and in a parallel storyline, controversies in the early 21st-century world of particle physics.[10] Her 2007 short story collection, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction, delves into the complications of desire.[11]

In 2013, she received international attention for her third novel Unexploded, which was long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Adapted for BBC Radio and named one of the Observer Books of the Year, it presents a non-triumphalist perspective on the early years of the second world war in Britain confronting the bigotry that can unfold at times of national strife. Described as "a piece of finely wrought ironwork, uncommonly delicate but at the same time astonishingly strong and tensile; it’s a novel of staggering elegance and beauty." and "Like her modernist forebears, Macleod knows that life and death, the terrible and the mundane always co-exist – her genius lies in illustrating these truths while simultaneously spinning a bona fide pageturner."[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] Unexploded was followed by a short story collection, All the Beloved Ghosts, 2017, named one of the Guardian‘s "Best Books of 2017," an "exceptionally accomplished collection" blends fiction, biography and memoir.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25]

In Tenderness, 2021, MacLeod "pulls off a magnificent nonlinear spin on Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the censorship of literature during D.H. Lawrence’s life and beyond... this places MacLeod among the best of contemporary novelists."[26] by tracing "Lady Chatterley’s sources in the thickets of Lawrence’s own biography, then follows its tortured progress towards the light through the indecency trial," where in her last days before becoming first lady, Jackie Kennedy, to honor a novel she loves, attends the trial."[27] Tenderness, originally a working title for Lawrence's novel, was on the NY Times "Best Historical Novels of 2021" and "The Season’s Best New Historical Novels" lists.[28][29][30][31]


Born in Montreal, Quebec of Nova Scotian parents and raised in Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia, she has lived in Brighton, England since 1987.[32] MacLeod studied English literature at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and later, completed her masters in creative writing and Ph.D at the University of Lancaster.[33] She is published by Bloomsbury and Penguin Canada, and is a professor of contemporary fiction at the University of Chichester.[34] She is a citizen of both Canada and the United Kingdom.


Selected bibliography[edit]

  • The Changeling, St. Martin's Press, 1996, ISBN 033362484X
  • The Wave Theory of Angels, Penguin Canada, 2005, ISBN 024114261X
  • Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction, Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 9780141016061
  • Unexploded, Hamish Hamilton, 2013, ISBN 0241142636, ISBN 978-0241142639
  • All the Beloved Ghosts, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, ISBN 9781408863787
  • Tenderness, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021, ISBN 9781526648181


  1. ^ Queiro, Alicia (16 August 2013). "Cultural life: Alison MacLeod, novelist". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Canada 150: Identity, Robbie Richardson, Alison MacLeod". BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Three authors with Canadian connections nominated for prestigious Booker Prize". CTV, Bell Media. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  4. ^ Leah. "2013 Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced". The Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  5. ^ McCrum, Robert; Reidy, Tess (3 August 2013). "My favourite first line – by writers on the 2013 Man Booker prize longlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Finalists named for 2017 Governor General's Literary Awards". Montreal Gazette, October 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "Explore the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction finalists:All the Beloved Ghosts". CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  8. ^ "The Changeling". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  9. ^ "The Changeling". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ Wheelwright, Julie (11 October 2005). "The Wave Theory Of Angels, by Alison MacLeod". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  11. ^ Greenland, Colin (22 September 2007). "Passing Fancies". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Book review: Unexploded By Alison MacLeod". The Independent. 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  13. ^ Abrams, Rebecca (23 August 2013). "'Unexploded', by Alison MacLeod". The Financial Times. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  14. ^ Hickling, Alfred (22 August 2013). "Unexploded by Alison MacLeod – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  15. ^ Clarke, Angus (16 August 2013). "Unexploded by Alison MacLeod". The Times. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  16. ^ Groskop, Viv (31 August 2013). "Unexploded by Alison MacLeod – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Alison MacLeod - Unexploded (an interview)". thetorontoquarterly.blogspot.c0m. The Toronto Quarterly. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Unexploded, Book at Bedtime". BBC. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  19. ^ O’Farrell, Maggie (26 November 2017). "Best books of 2017 – part two". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  20. ^ Kelly, Mary Louise (22 April 2017). "Author Alison MacLeod Tries To Find Humor In Terrorism". Weekend Edition. National Public Radio. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Excerpt, All the Beloved Ghosts". Literary Hub. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  22. ^ Lee, Yoona. "Revival and Resurrection in Alison MacLeod's "All the Beloved Ghosts"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  23. ^ ALL THE BELOVED GHOSTS by Alison MacLeod | Kirkus Reviews.
  24. ^ McDougall, Allana. "Why 'normal' people make short story writer Alison MacLeod wary". CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  25. ^ Gilbert, Zoe (1 April 2017). "The spell of the familiar: Zoe Gilbert interviews Alison MacLeod about her new collection". Short Fiction in Theory & Practice. 7 (1): 79–86. doi:10.1386/fict.7.1.79_7. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  26. ^ "PW Picks: Books of the Week, September 13, 2021". Publishers Weekly. 10 September 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  27. ^ Norris, Barney (18 September 2021). "Tenderness by Alison MacLeod review – the triumph of Lady Chatterley". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  28. ^ Day, Gregory (31 December 2021). "Compelling novel revisits landmark literary obscenity trial". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  29. ^ Becker, Alida (3 December 2021). "The Season's Best New Historical Novels". New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  30. ^ Becker, Alida (9 December 2021). "The Best Historical Fiction of 2021". New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  31. ^ "PEOPLE Picks the Best New Books of the Week". People. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  32. ^ "Three authors with ties to Canada up for prestigious Booker Prize". Vancouver Sun, July 28, 2013.
  33. ^ University, Lancaster. "Success Stories | English & Creative Writing | Lancaster University". Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  34. ^ "Professor Alison MacLeod". Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  35. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (26 November 2015). "MacLeod and Atkins win British Library Writer in Residence Award". The Bookseller. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  36. ^ "BBC National Short Story Award". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  37. ^ "Front Row: Alison MacLeod". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 October 2018.

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