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Anthony McCarten Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Spinners (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The English Harem (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Brilliance (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of a Superhero (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Show of Hands / Endurance (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Absence of Heroes (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Going Zero (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

A Modest Apocalypse and Other Stories (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Darkest Hour (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Two Popes (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Warren and Bill (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Plays

The Theory of Everything (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ladies Night (With: Stephen Sinclair) (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collaboration (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Anthony McCarten
Anthony McCarten was born April 28, 1961 and is a poet, fiction writer, screenwriter, and playwright. He was born and raised in New Plymouth, New Zealand, and went to Francis Douglas Memorial College. He worked as a reporter for a couple years on The Taranaki Herald before he studied for an Arts degree at Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington, where he studied creative writing with Bill Manhire. McCarten, after he left university, appeared in a production King Lear.

“The English Harem” was adapted into a movie by Anthony himself that aired in December of 2005 on ITV. “Death of a Superhero” was adapted by him as well, for both the screen and a stage musical. He directed the big screen adaptation of “Show of Hands”, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the New Zealand Film Awards.

“Death of a Superhero” won the 2008 Austrian Youth Literature Prize and was a finalist for the 2008 German Youth Literature Prize. “In the Absence of Heroes was a finalist for a 2013 New Zealand Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the 2014 Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award.

Anthony’s play “Ladies’ Night” won France’s Moliere Prize, the Meilleure Piece Comique in the year 2001. He also adapted “Via Sattelite”, another of his plays, into a feature film and directed it, which would premiere at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

Anthony has also written biographical movies about Queen (the rock band) and Winston Churchill, which was based on his book “Darkest Hour”. “Darkest Hour”, which starred Gary Oldman as Churchill, who received critical acclaim for his performance including a Best Actor Oscar. McCarten earned one as producer in the Best Picture category. He also got nominated for a couple of BAFTAs for his producing role, Best Film and Best British Film. “Bohemian Rhapsody” earned more than $900 million at the box office, and was nominated for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Picture.

“The Theory of Everything”, about Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane Hawking, was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, with McCarten earning two in his screenwriter and producer roles of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. He also won two BAFTA awards for his work as producer (Best British Film) and as screenwriter (Best Adapted Screenplay).

McCarten also adapted his own play “The Pope” into a movie titled “The Two Popes”, which starred Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI.

“Spinners” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 1998. Delia Chapman, the heroine of this extraterrestrial black comedy, is 16 and pregnant. Quite possibly, she is claiming, by the alien beings that took her on their vessel. They were wearing stainless steel boots and silver suits. The vessel was super modern and totally impressive.

The first person she tells this story to is the local cop that finds her wandering on the highway outside of the small New Zealand town of Opunake. While the story keeps spreading, theories abound as to why Delia would make such a thing up in the first place.

One explanation holds that her job at Borthwick’s Freezing Works had unhinged her ever since it was known that 80% of the town’s female population were getting taxed to the point of almost nervous collapse by the unrelenting regimen of the factory. Another faction suggests Delia, known to wear a Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball hat and a University of North Carolina T-shirt, and to carry a walkman around wherever she goes, may simply have taken the next logical step into her transformation into a Yank with her wild story about alien abduction.

As skeptical as the local townsfolk are, finding a dead cow in the middle of a crop circle adds some credence to her story, and soon small Opunake is right in the middle of a media blitz. Then Phillip Sullivan, a former soldier with dreams of reopening the town library, arrives and falls for our heroine. One at a time, secrets are laid bare, some mysteries resolved, and no one’s life is ever going to be the same again.

McCarten has woven together a novel that’s both incredibly funny and yet very serious. This is one extraterrestrial tale with its feet planted firmly on the ground.

“The English Harem” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2002. Tracy Pringle, a supermarket checkout girl, has got a very lively imagination indeed. In front of her, while she blip-blips herself into a daydream, walk past not tired office clerks or boring housewives with their screaming kids, but the likes of Princess Leia, Lord Byron, and Lawrence of Arabia.

It comes as no surprise, then, that she turns a blind eye when her Majesty herself pops a packet of Mr. Kipling’s Bakewell tarts into her handbag without paying for them. Obviously the management see this differently, and Tracy’s given the sack right on the spot and forced to find herself some other job.

However nothing is able to prepare her for the new life that is waiting for her at the Taste of Persia restaurant, where she’s flung headlong into this clash of languages, cultures, regions, dinner plates, and a rather tricky domestic arrangement.

“Brilliance” is the third stand alone novel and was released in 2003. Short of money, Thomas Edison (the inventor) gets captivated by the charismatic figure of J. P. Morgan, the “world’s banker”. Accepting the glittering offer from Morgan of nearly unlimited money in return for helping him change the way that the world does business, Edison sees himself descend from being the godlike inventor of electric light to being complicit in the invention of the electric chair.

Ever more enmeshed in Morgan’s personal life, he gets infatuated by a world of power and privilege, where desire and duty, immorality and faith get thrown into conflict, and ultimate threaten his own spiritual and creative survival.

Magical, witty, furious, “Brilliance” brings to life the birth of the modern era and it provides this indelible portrait of the times in which we now live.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Anthony McCarten

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