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J.G. Farrell Books In Order

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Publication Order of Empire Trilogy Books

Troubles (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Siege of Krishnapur (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Singapore Grip (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

A Man From Elsewhere (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lung (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Girl in the Head (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hill Station (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon

James Gordon Farrell otherwise known as J.G. Farrell is a historical fiction novelist that was born in Liverpool England in 1935.

The author would garner critical acclaim when he penned the historical fiction novels in the “Empire Trilogy.” These works explored the rise of British imperialism and ultimately its decline.

The author was born to an English father and an Irish mother and for the most part, grew up in Ireland.

He was born the second child of three siblings to accountant Wiliam Farrell who was then working in Bengal. His mother was Prudence Russell a former secretary and receptionist at a doctor’s office.

When he was 12, he was sent to the Lancashire-based Rossall boarding school. Following the conclusion of World War II, the Farrell family moved to Dublin following which J.G. Farrel spent a lot of time in Ireland.

It was perhaps this fact and the popularity of his novel “Troubles” that led many to believe he was an Irish writer. Following his graduation from Rossall, he would become a teacher in Dublin for a while.

In 1956, he enrolled at Oxford’s Brasenose college, which is where he contracted polio, which would leave him partially crippled. The disease would form a prominent theme in several of his works.

He would then proceed to the University of Oxford. Farrell would graduate from Oxford in 1960 with a degree in Spanish and French. It was while he teaching secondary school in France that Farrell got into fiction writing.

In 1963, J.G. Farrell penned “A Man from Elsewhere,” a highly philosophical novel about a communist journalist determined to expose a celebrated writer’s past. The work was hailed for its echoes of French existentialism and would be one of the best novels he ever produced.
In 1965, he published “The Lung” in which he explored his struggle with polio while he was a student at Oxford. In this work, he portrays himself as an irascible fellow who unfortunately has to breathe using an iron lung.

Following the success of his first two novels, he was granted a fellowship in 1966. He would then head to the United States, which is where he published “A Girl in the Head” while living in New York City.

The work is written in a seriocomic format as it tells the story of a cynical eccentric residing in a coastal town in England.

While he was born in England in the United Kingdom, J.G. Farrell spent much of his life as an adult abroad. After living in Europe and the United States, he would ultimately settle in London, where he penned most of his novels.

Farrell’s travels took him all over the globe but he spent long periods in North America and France. In 1979, he went to live in County Cork in Ireland where aged 44, he died from drowning in a fishing accident.

By the time of his death, he had won many awards including the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010 for the novel “Troubles” and the Man Booker Prize for his work “The Siege of Krishnapur.”

According to his peers such as Salman Rushdie, Farrell would have become one of the most prominent novelists in the English language had he not died so young.

J.G. Farrell’s novel “Troubles” is a work set in 1919, where Major Brendan Archer just survived the Great War and is now heading to Ireland. He hopes to learn if it is true that he was engaged to Angela Spencer. Her family is the owners of the Kilnalough-based Majestic Hotel.
He finds his fiancee looking strange and it seems the family has been experiencing a serious decline in their fortunes. Most of the hotel’s rooms have been falling into a state of disrepair, and the few remaining guests thrive on games of whist and rumors.

The upper stories of the building and the Imperial Bar have been taken over by herds of cats. Piglets can be found frolicking in the squash court and the foundations are threatened by bamboo shoots.

In the meantime, the Major is fascinated by the bitter and beautiful Sarah Devlin. As he is forced from room to room by housekeeping disasters, the British Empire is also tottering on the brink of collapse.

Ireland is in the middle of the troubles and there is a lot of unrest in the East. It makes for a heartbreaking and hilarious work by one of the best in historical fiction.

The Booker Prize-winning novel “The Siege of Krishnapur” by J.G. Farrell is set in India in 1857.
This was the year when the locals mutinied as Muslim soldiers rebelled in bloody fashion against their British overlords. The Siege of Krishnapur is set in what may best be described as an isolated Victorian outpost in India.

There are rumors of strife coming in from far and wide even though the colonial community and the administration remain confident of their moral and military superiority.

With tension mounting, chapatis have been appearing in the surrounding villages. This flat unleavened bread is the signal that the locals give each other to revolt when the time is right.

In the meantime, there is a rumor of a dangerous revolt in Meerut, even though most of the British citizens of Krishnapur remain unconcerned.

But soon enough, they find themselves in real danger and the true character of their wistful, blundering, and brutal ways come to light.

This companion work to the “Troubles” story it provides a vivid description of the follies of the British Empire.

J.G. Farrell’s novel “The Singapore Grip” is set in Singapore and has a man named Walter Blackett as the lead.

Life has been very different for him as compared to what it was before. He had once been the CEO of the most powerful and oldest British firm in Singapore.

In another thread, the police have been working hard to break strikes but they always break out in another place.

Meanwhile, his daughter has been increasingly getting entangled with unsuitable men while the man he would prefer for her turns out to be a vegetarian and sympathizer with the League of Nations.

Business is not so bad even with the Second World War raging as the allies are demanding rubber in huge quantities.

Blackett has taken advantage of the high demand to manipulate the market and fix prices, even though something has been going wrong behind the scenes.

No one suspects that the massive and powerful British Empire and the fixed boundaries between nations and classes is about to come to an end.

Combining a war story and a love story, it is a tragicomedy of a dying way of life and a city under siege.

Book Series In Order » Authors » J.G. Farrell

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