Lionel Shriver, author of the award winning We Need To Talk About Kevin, has made one of the main characters in her new novel a professional snooker player.

The Post Birthday World, published in May, centres on Irina, an illustrator, torn between her husband and the snooker champion, Ramsay.

"One reason I chose snooker is that it is very, very British," said Shriver. "There are not many things left that are, but last time I checked, snooker hadn't spread to the United States. It was a way of making Ramsay exotic and alien. When you go for the exotic, you have that kind of energy difference generates. It expands your world.

"But if you go for familiarity, you have comfort, companionship that comes perhaps a little more naturally. You have the prospect of both understanding and being understood."

By the way, Shriver changed her name to Lionel when she was 15 because she felt men had it easier.


James Bielby said...

She interviewed Jimmy White for the Guardian G2 last year and one of her previous novels centres on a relationship between married tennis professionals. The marriage breaks down when on one of the couple's career takes off and the other is jealous.
Racking my brains to think of snooker's other literary appearances. Can only think of Barry Hearn's ill-fated attempts to write a novel, although that hardly counts as literature.

Dave H said...

Not literature, but snooker features in Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' even though it is set before the game was commonly accepted to have been invented.

I've just read 'Arthur and George' by Julian Barnes which includes various references to billiards.

Anonymous said...

I think Lionel Shriver is an excellent writer. She often appears on Newsnight Review with really insighful comments on everything to do with 'cultcha!' I'll have to buy this book.

I found a book in a charity shop by Donald Fulford? (I think) called Snookered or Snooker. It was released in 1986, and is an excellent read, stories about nights out with players after world championships in Sheffied, and other assorted tales around the green baize. I'll have to have a look for it.

Why are there so few books on the game. It seems to be only history or biography's on offer?

Thanks, Joe

James Bielby said...

Not a novel, but one fictional snooker player is Harry "Flash" Gordon, as played by Bob Geldof in the dreadful 80s film Number One. If my memory serves me right, the film is notable for the silver screen debut of a little-known Welsh actor called Clive Everton, but some cursory googling has been unable to confirm this.

Dave H said...

Joe - snooker books don't appear to sell as well as books on, say, cricket or golf. Not sure why this should be.

James - Clive denies being in this film, although Ted Lowe and John Williams were.

Some cast as well: Geldof, Phil Daniels, Alison Steadman, Ray Winstone, Alfred Molina, Ian Dury and Alun Armstrong.

Just a shame it was rubbish.

James Bielby said...

Joe - You should try to get a copy of Pocket Money by Gordon Burn. It's one of the best books written about snooker, and indeed any sport. Interestingly, one of the few other decent books about the game was written around the same time – 1985-6 – Snookered by Donald Trelford.
Since then the pickings have been slim, for example Where Are They Now by Dean Hayes, a book that doesn't actually do what it says in its title, but rather gives an ill-informed potted biography of a somewhat random selection of players. It doesn't even acknowledge Cliff Wilson's death and describes him as scuba diving reguarly. From beyond the grave?
Of the few 80s players to have disappeared completely Tony Meo is now believed to be driving a black cab around the streets of London. Basic research by Hayes would have uncovered this. A shockingly bad book.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for that information. I shall try to obtain a copy of Pocket Money in the near future.

Snookered by Donald Trelford is the book I was referring to on the above posting. I do have a copy of that - which I bought in a charity shop. It is a good read.

I'll avoid the other book going by your review.

Maybe you or Dave could give me an answer to this question: Which player has the best biography to read. Any that I should go out of my way to buy?

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

Pocket Money is about to be reissued with a new foreword by Clive.

Best biog? Probably Cliff Thorburn's if you can still get it.

Anonymous said...

When is it being reissued and, will I be able to buy it at a 'discount' price through Snookerscene Shop, Dave?

I shall try to hunt down CT's book.Thanks.

By the way, didn't Julian Barnes have another book out recently to do with sport? And, doesn't he sometimes turn up in the Wembley/Crucible press rooms to do features for The Times? If not, am thinking of the wrong writer.

Thanks, Joe

James Bielby said...

The Thorburn book was written by Clive Everton so was bound to be half-decent.
The same can't be said for the spate of other autos which came out in the late 80s/early 90s. All are long forgotten and with good reason: Griff, John Parrott, Stephen Hendry's Remember My Name. Shame no one remembered his book.
I enjoyed Alex Higgins's second autobiography, written by Tony Francis, who used to present ITV and C4 coverage back in the days when they covered three or four tournaments a year. The first one was more picture-led. Do we really need another Higgins book? There have already been two biogs, of vastly differing quality, in the last 7 years. That's five books, and a stage play about the Hurricane.
I think Steve Davis could write a readable book. He wrote two in the 80s of course.
Of the more recent snooker books O'Sullivan and White's were ok. The former was written by Simon Hattenstone, who lives round the corner from me.
A warts and all biog of White would be worth reading although it may shock some of his loyal fans to know exactly what he has got up to over the past 30 years. Lovable rogue? Not if the truth was to be told about him.

Anonymous said...

Didn't White's book win the Whitbread Sports Book of The Year in 2004 or 05?

I like Simon Hattenstone's work. He used to do an awful lot of interview pieces for the G2 section of the Guardian. He also featured in a Louis Theroux documentary on Max Clifford, I seem to remember.

Thanks, Joe

James Bielby said...

No, it came out in 1998.

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