“Original, strange, funny, profound” (Louis De Bernieres).
Shortlisted for the 2013 East Midlands Book Award.
Longlisted for the 2013 Guardian Not the Booker Prize.
Entertaining Strangers is a tragi-comedy about the eccentric Edwin Prince – a depressive intellectual obsessed with high culture and ants – and the mysterious, homeless narrator Jules, who gradually unravels Edwin’s impossible relationships with his landlady, neurotic mother, psychotic brother, domineering ex-wife, dead grandfather and, above all, his ant-farm. At the same time, Jules continually experiences traumatic memories full of fire and water, and gradually a terrible pre-history emerges from beneath all of the other stories, which seems somehow to shape both Jules’s fiery dreams and Edwin’s obsessions – a great fire, massacre and one girl’s drowning in Smyrna, 75 years earlier.
See on Salt’s website here for further details, a sample chapter, and to buy the book.
You can also buy the novel from Amazon here.
Some reviews of Entertaining Strangers:
“Entertaining Strangers made me laugh. If you are interested in landladies, eccentrics, philosophers, bad families, music, degenerates and ants, Jonathan Taylor’s entertaining and illuminating novel will make you laugh too” (Kate Pullinger).
“Gripping tale of deeply strange and obsessive characters, funny and horrifying, a great read” (Michele Hanson).
“A literary novel with prose like music. A novel that demands a reader response …. A novel that deals with the crunchiness of living life on the edge” (Sophie Duffy).
“… an intriguing … investigation into the inescapability of personal and political history … many things to admire” (Times Literary Supplement).
“This quirky tragicomic novel … is a spiritual boost for the soul that reminds us of the importance of altruistic gestures …. It provides a great many laughs as well as a few surprises along the way” (Spirit & Destiny Magazine “Must Read” for April 2013).
“… beautifully and creatively written. The deceptive lightness and hilarity, with which the story starts, soon evolves into a tale of tragedy, suffering and redemption …. Entertaining Strangers entertains, amuses, delights and connects” (Paul Hague, in Stand Magazine).
“… contender for best book of the year …. The poetic prose is witty and sharp …. Entertaining Strangers is an intelligent, funny and tragic book …. Highly recommended” (Jessica Patient in The View From Here Magazine). Also named as one of the Best Reads of 2013 (Jessica Patient, Writer’s Little Helper)
“… the kind of character who comes along once in a lifetime, the kind who echoes in your thoughts for days after reading …. The line between comedy and tragedy is redrawn in satisfyingly unexpected ways …. Taylor has forged the laughter of recognition” (Gareth Watts, Fiction Uncovered).
“We are in the hands of a writer fully in control of his craft … weird and wonderful story … moments of genuine emotion … combine with deliciously anarchic humour … unputdownable … accomplished and often beautiful … as vividly imagined as Gulliver’s travels or Alice’s wonderland” (Paula McGrath, Necessary Fiction).
“… well-written and bravely ambitious, with an unforced and sincere compassion, and many fine passages of no little anger which settle in unexpected corners of the mind” (Steph Power, in Wales Arts Review).
“… weird, quirky and fascinating … a hidden gem” (Booker Marks).
“… a masterful narrative” (Sevenoaks Life).
“Prince is an eccentric of the first order …. a mostly funny but occasionally sombre tale of curtailed and unstable lives …. The higher aims … are skilfully entwined …. entertains” (Adrian Slatcher, The Art of Fiction).
“… riches and beauty to be discovered …. The themes are original, the setting is modern, the style is impeccable, the allegory rich” (Jessica Lynn Lang, The Ambriel Revolution).
“… one of the more creative and original books I’ve ever read … an intellectual’s book: one clever and gigantic allegory full of surprises … wholly fascinating … smart and eccentric writing style” (Dreamworld Book Reviews).
“… a cherishing read …. The author’s imagination … is super … a fun-filled reading …. Writing is precise and fluent” (Indian Book Reviews).
“A good read, a powerful story, fiction with an intellectual kick” (Jonathan Davidson).
“… a well-balanced tragi-comedy. Edwin steals the show … and will become a memorable lead character in literary fiction … imagine a cross between Withnail and I with ants, and The Young Ones with Oscar Wilde” (James Walker, Leftlion Magazine).
“At times, I was pulled in and fascinated … definitely a book I would return to” (Our Book Reviews).
“… wonderful, really … wonderful … thoroughly enjoyable” (Liz Millar, Millarpede).
“… subtle … tragi-comedy” (Factory Mag).
“Strikingly surreal … one of the few genuinely original novels published in the last few years” (Rad Gregory).
Here is a trailer for the novel, thanks to Chris Hamilton-Emery:
Interviews and articles about Entertaining Strangers