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James Hopkin

prison / poverty / poetry / purgatory: the biography of a writer

©Jamie Howard

James Hopkin studied English with Philosophy, gaining First Class Honours at Manchester, followed by a Distinction in his MA Studies in Modern Fiction at the UEA, Norwich and a British Academy scholarship for his PhD at York & the UEA. In 1998, he began writing about literature for the New Statesman and the Guardian, the latter including interviews with Ivan Klima, and Nobel Laureates, as well as features on Czech, German and Polish literature.

Publishing short stories since 1994, Hopkin won the first Norwich Prize for Literature (UK Arts Council; chairwoman Rose Tremain) in 2002 with the short story, Even the Crows Say Krakow, which was subsequently published by Picador for whom he signed in 2003. Winter Under Water, his first novel, was published to critical acclaim in 2007 (and republished in 2014).

In 2007, Hopkin was the Guest Professor of Literature at the University of Leipzig, and he has been writer-in-residence in several countries across Europe, reading his fiction at festivals across the continent, including Edinburgh, Tbilisi, Zagreb and Viborg, Denmark. His short stories have been widely anthologised, including in the Edinburgh International Book Festival's 4-book anthology, Elsewhere (2012). Nine of his stories have been dramatised by BBC Radio 3 and 4, including A Dalmation Trilogy, A Georgian Trilogy, and stories set in Vienna (Jonke's Schnitzel) and Berlin (The Mural at Frau Krauser's). He also worked as a contributing writer to the film, 'Fishermen's Conversations' (2015).

Hopkin won a J B Priestley Award in 2010, a Society of Authors' Award in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Manchester International Fiction Prize in 2013, with the story,''The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui's Arm''. In October, 2014, he was awarded a UNESCO city of literature Krakow bench plaque in planty.

New work includes the novel, Say Goodbye to Breakfast (Picador) and the collected stories, Fairy-tales for Fugitives (Picador). He continues to travel the continent, and can often be seen sleeping alongside his horse in the hay.

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