Jay Griffiths

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Jaye Griffiths.
Jay Griffiths
Born 1965
Manchester, England
Occupation Writer
Genre Non-fiction
Notable work Wild: An Elemental Journey

Jay Griffiths (born 1965 in Manchester) is an award-winning British writer and author of Wild: An Elemental Journey, Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, Anarchipelago, A Love Letter from a Stray Moon and Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape.


Jay Griffiths was born in Manchester, England, and grew up near Hampton Court on the outskirts of London.[1] She once lived in a shed in Dial House, on the outskirts of Epping Forest, and now lives in Mid Wales.[2] After studies in English Literature at Oxford University, she travelled around the world visiting indigenous communities and learning from them. Her books are based on her learning and her travels.[3] Griffiths has appeared in the London Review of Books and has contributed to programmes on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. Her columns have appeared in The Guardian and The Ecologist, and since 2009 she has been a columnist for Orion magazine.[4]

Jay Griffiths has also been a contributor at many cultural events including the Adelaide Festival of Ideas,[5] the More Than Us conference with David Abram and Scottish artists Dalziel + Scullion;[6] the Royal Academy with artists Ackroyd & Harvey;[7] the International Sacred Arts Festival in Delhi[8] and has been a part of the popular Radiolab podcasts. She has also been a supporter of the Aluna project, for which she gave a talk in the Hayward Gallery in March 2007.[9]


Wild: An Elemental Journey[edit]

Wild is Jay Griffiths' second book. It describes an odyssey to wildernesses of earth, ice, water, air and fire, exploring the connection between human society and wild lands. It is also a journey into wild mind, as Griffiths explores the words and meanings which shape our ideas and experience of our own wildness, the wildness of the human spirit.[10] The book includes the description of drinking ayahuasca with shamans in the Amazon, as a treatment for depression, and discusses shamanism, nomadism and freedom. Various chapters describe journeys to the Arctic, to Australia and to the freedom fighters of West Papua.[3]

Wild is quoted on KT Tunstall's album Tiger Suit and has been nominated by Tunstall as her favourite book.[11] The Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture reads from Wild during their documentary for their album Angles.[12]

In April 2011, Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien posted a recommendation of Wild on the band's blog, stating that it is "an astonishing piece of writing " and that "it was exactly what I needed to read".[13]

On publication in the UK, Wild was praised widely in major newspapers and described as ‘part travelogue, part call to arms and wholly original... A vital, unique and uncategorisable celebration of the spirit of life’.[14] The Independent referred to it as 'remarkable' and 'stupendous'[15] while The Guardian wrote: “Jay Griffiths is a five-star, card-carrying member of the hellfire club... a strange, utterly compelling book, Wild is easily the best, most rewarding travel book that I have read in the last decade.”[16] For The Sunday Times Anthony Sattin wrote "There is no getting away from the book's brilliance"[17] and The Independent on Sunday referred to Wild "as a song of delight, and a cry of warning, poetic, erudite and insistent… a restless, unstintingly generous performance..."[18] and The Times referred to "kaleidoscopic narrative", "exhilarating prose".[19] Wild was successful in Australia where it received positive reviews in the Sydney Morning Herald, described by Bruce Elder as "The best book I read all year".[20] During an interview about the experiences discussed in Wild, Griffiths said, "To my mind, at worst, the West operates a kind of 'intellectual apartheid' – the idea that our way of thinking is the only one. Really, there are more ways of living and thinking than we could ever imagine."[21]

Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time[edit]

Jay Griffiths' first book, it explores time as a political subject, showing how indigenous cultures have diverse ways of considering time (past, present and future) but illustrating how one, single, European time is colonising all these varieties of time. It is a manifesto for cyclical time and for the times of nature, of carnival, of play: and argues that women’s time is different from men’s.[22]

The book was described by The Independent as "A wonderful, delightfully humorous polemic against everything that's wrong with the way we deal with time today".[23] The New Scientist described it as "A whirl of a book. Any page will get you hooked"[24] and The New Internationalist called it: “Splendid, extraordinarily wide-ranging, emphasizing the political import of the subject. Impressive, absorbing and radical, provocative, impassioned, often outrageously witty.”[25]

A Love Letter from a Stray Moon[edit]

This short novel is published by Text Publishing and by Little Toller Books. It is a novel partly based on the life of Frida Kahlo.

Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape[edit]

This book was published by Hamish Hamilton in 2013, and by Penguin in 2014. The review in The Guardian comments that Kith is at its centre "a lament for the English countryside and an expression of a very English Romanticism"; it describes the liking for Romanticism in the book as too easily descending into navel-gazing; it objects to Griffiths' "reactionary ideology" to modern childhood; and it argues that there is no real distinction between childscape and the domain of adults.[26] However, the author Rebecca Loncraine, writing in The Independent, "didn't just read this book; I revelled in it." The reviewer finds the book's take on nature and the wild refreshing, and likes the energetic style which she agrees is a matter of taste; the book's structure is praised for being "carefully tangential", beautifully illustrating the ideas of freedom and unstructuredness that the book discusses. The reviewer finds the book " playful and polemical, emotional and imaginative. It's as vital as play itself."[27]

Tristimania: A Diary of Manic Depression[edit]

Griffiths' 2016 book explores a year long episode of manic depression that she experienced.[28][29]


Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for the best new non-fiction writer in the USA, 2003[30][full citation needed]. "Jay Griffiths has produced nothing short of an original opening of the human mind… Her book is cleverness in the service of genius." (Citation on winning the Barnes and Noble "Discover" award).[31]

Wild won the inaugural Orion Book Award for 2007.[32]


  1. ^ http://www.academi.org/writers-of-wales/i/134559/
  2. ^ http://www.metro.co.uk/showbiz/interviews/57430-60-seconds-jay-griffiths
  3. ^ a b Moss, Stephen (6 June 2007). "Call of the wild". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Griffiths, Jay (January–February 2010). "The Tips of Your Fingers". Orion. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Festival of Ideas 2007 listings". 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "More Than Us – List of speakers". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Ackroyd & Harvey in Conversation with Jay Griffiths". Royal Academy Website. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Sacred Groves and Landscapes". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Griffiths, Jay (27 February 2007). "There is Not Authority but Yourself". PowellsBooks.Blog. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  10. ^ http://fivedials.com/titles/wild
  11. ^ http://www.kttunstall.com/kt-top-10/
  12. ^ The Strokes (12 February 2010). The Strokes 2010 Recording for next album PART 1. Manhattan's Avatar Studios: YouTube.com. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  13. ^ http://www.radiohead.com/deadairspace/index.php?c=599
  14. ^ Beetlestone, Ian (20 May 2007). "The final frontierswoman". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  15. ^ Green, Toby (25 May 2007). "Wild, by Jay Griffiths". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  16. ^ Cocker, Mark (9 June 2007). "Where the wild things are". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  17. ^ Sattin, Anthony (9 December 2007). "The best travel books of 2007". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  18. ^ Gibbs, Jonathan (3 June 2007). "Wild by Jay Griffiths". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  19. ^ Maybey, Richad (26 May 2007). "Wild". The Times. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  20. ^ Turnbull, Sue (15 December 2007). "The pick of the literary crop". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  21. ^ Graeme Green (16 July 2007). "60 SECONDS: Jay Griffiths". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  22. ^ "Pip-pip: A Sideways Look at Time". HarperCollins. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  23. ^ Barrett, David (27 November 1999). "Books for Christmas: Millennium – Dennis the menace gets the time wrong". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  24. ^ "Time After time". New Scientist. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  25. ^ "Pip pip: a sideways look at time". New Internationalist. December 2000. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  26. ^ Linklater, Alexander (28 April 2013). "Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  27. ^ Loncraine, Rebecca (3 May 2013). "Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape, By Jay Griffiths". The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  28. ^ The Guardian
  29. ^ Kirkus Reviews
  30. ^ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/awards/bndiscover_past.asp
  31. ^ Kirby, Terry (9 March 2004). "Griffiths' Time arrives as Lit Brits storm US awards". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  32. ^ "2007 Orion Book Award Winner". Orion. 20 May 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 

External links[edit]