“The Crimson Petal and the White”, is undoubtedly any thriller lover’s paradise. In fact, the first two sentences speak for the author’s introduction – Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them.
We are talking about none other than famous fiction writer Michel Faber. This Dutch born writer had quite journey of life. Though, he doesn’t consider himself as a Dutch. He publicly admits that he doesn’t have any joyful memories of his first 7 years of life. “I don’t remember any of it,” he says. “But other family members have since filled me in on things that were going on in my family and I’m sure it wasn’t a healthy environment.”
Michel Faber was born in The Hague, Netherlands on April 13, 1960. After his parents’ immigration to Australia in 1967, he joined primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater. Then he had gone to University of Melbourne to study Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric English Language and English literature. After his graduation in 1980, Faber started working as a cleaner and some other casual jobs until he started training as a nurse. He worked as a nurse until he moved to Scotland with his second wife in 1993.
Michel Faber’s story starts form here in Scotland. He is generally considered a Scottish writer in Scotland. In 1996, he won the Macallan Short Story Competition making him “Scottish by formation”. Most of the awards and prizes that Faber won were here in Scotland. The Neil Gunn Prize, The Macallan Prize, The Saltire First Book of the Year Award glorified him in Scotland. His works are published by a Scotland based publisher.
On the other hand, in Australia, Faber is considered an Australian as his most of the childhood and early adult life was here in Australia.
Michel Faber’s serious writings started at his early teens. Being shy, he kept them to himself. A several number of short stories, early drafts of his masterpiece The Crimson Petal and the White were written during the 1980s. Another unissued novel, A Photograph of Jesus was finished during this period. It was his second wife Eva who inspired him to get enrolled for short stories competition. He started winning them one by one. Eventually the Edinburgh based publishing company Cannon gate Books approached to him who have published all his works in the UK ever since.
As for first publication, Faber’s first published book was “Some Rain Must Fall”, a collection of short stories. The book was published in 1998. The title story has won him Ian St. James award back in 1996 and “Fish” another stunning short story had won the Macallan Prize in 1996. Not only had that, in 1997, “Half a Million Pounds and a Miracle” come as the winner in the Neil Gunn Award.
After that, he started focusing on novels. His first novel Under the Skin was published in 2000. Like most of his writings, it is hard to categorize, having a combo of Sci-fi, horror and thriller. This book was heavily praised by literary critics all over the world. By the year 2004, it has been translated to 17 languages.
Faber’s next big blow was Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps. In 2001 the book got published and received mixed reviews. After that, The Courage Consort came in 2002.
2002, it was 2002 when Michel Faber’s masterpiece The Crimson Petal and the White was published. The story develops around the timeframe of the 1870s London, centering a 19-year-old-prostitue named Sugar. The novel can be said a story of business, family rivalry and prostitution in Victorian England. The book lets to have a glimpse of the darker side of London back in 1880s. Michel Faber has also written the book The Apple, based on the characters developed in The Crimson Petal and the White. The novel was a bestseller in the USA, France, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium.
Always an adventurous mind, Faber took part in The Authors on the Frontline project. In 2004 he travelled to Ukraine to witness an intervention in the HIV/AIDS with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). In 2005, Faber wrote an article for The Sunday Times about this project. Faber decided to write a story for his journey in Ukraine. His story “Bye Bye Natalia” was mesmerizing that was published in 2006 then it was chosen to be included in 2008 edition of O Henry Prize Stories. The award is given to the writer who are deemed have made “a major contribution to the art of the short story”.
The Fahrenheit Twins, his second assembly of short stories was published in 2005. “The Safehouse”, the opening story of the book won the second prize in the BBC National Short Story Award in 2005.
Inspired by the myth of Prometheus, Faber wrote a novel named The Fire Gospel that got published in 2008. The book satirizes the publishing industry in many senses. The book tells a story of a scholar who steals the gospel that describes Jesus’s death.
“Walking After Midnight” a breathtaking short story was donated to Oxfam’s Ox-Tales project which is total 4 collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. “The Water Collection” contained his story.
Michel Faber’s sixth marvel, “The Book of Strange New Things” was published in 2014. Sadly, after the publication of the book Faber declared that he will quit writing. Faber said in an interview,” I think I have written the things I was put on earth to write. I think I’ve reached the limit”. “The book of strange new things” was called The Book of the year by the World Magazine.
Michel Faber’s work has seen many adaptations. The BBC produced a four part adaptation of The Crimson Petal and the White in 2011. Starring Romola Garai, Chris O’Dowd, Richard E. Grant and Gillian Anderson adaptation has been highly praised. The Courage Consort has been adapted twice by the BBC in the UK and the ABC in Australia. Starring Scarlett Johansson and directed by Jonathan Glazar, Under The Skin has been adapted in a Scottish movie in 2013. The movie was premiered at venice Film Festival on September, 2013.
Faber’s power of imagination is quite enviable. He can tell the story from a variety of angles and perspectives making a reader think, to really think. He explores the world though many medium like a science fiction dystopia, an alcoholic nun contemplating suicide, a deaf woman working in a sex shop, a teenage boy fantasizing sex when his sister has abortion. Michel Faber’s every single story has a masterful use of empathy and language.Book Series In Order » Authors » Michel Faber