Birmingham, John 1964–
Birmingham, John 1964–
PERSONAL: Born 1964, in England; children: one daughter, one son. Education: University of Queensland, degree in arts.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pan Macmillan Australia, Publicity Department, Level 18, St. Martin's Tower, 31 Market St., Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia.
CAREER: Writer. Formerly researcher for Australian Department of Defense, Office of Special Clearances and Records.
He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, Yellow Press (Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia), 1994, film edition, Duffy & Snellgrove (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.
(With Dirk Flinthart) How to Be a Man, Duffy & Snellgrove (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1995, revised and expanded 2nd edition, 1998.
The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (sequel to He Died with a Felafel in His Hand), Duffy & Snellgrove (Potts Point, New South Wales, Australia), 1997, 10th anniversary comic-book edition, 2004.
The Felafel Guide to Sex, Duffy & Snellgrove (Potts Point, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
The Felafel Guide to Getting Wasted, Duffy & Snellgrove (Potts Point, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
Leviathan: The Unauthorized Biography of Sydney (nonfiction), Random House (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.
Appeasing Jakarta: Australia's Complicity in the Timor Tragedy, Schwartz Publishing (Melbourne, Australia), 2001.
Off One's Tits: Ill-considered Rants and Raves from a Graceless Oaf Named John Birmingham, Vintage (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
Dopeland: Taking the High Road through Australia's Marijuana Culture, Random House (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.
Weapons of Choice (novel), Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2004
Designated Targets (novel), Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005
Also author, under name Harrison Biscuit, of The Search for Savage Henry. Author of introduction, Sydney Cafes: Where the Writers Go, Bradl & Schlesinger (Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
ADAPTATIONS: He Died with a Felafel in His Hand was adapted as a play and as a film, directed by Richard Lowenstein.
SIDELIGHTS: John Birmingham's first book, He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, is a semi-autobiographical story of the young narrator and his long string of housemates. It details their many adventures revolving around drinking, smoking marijuana, and trying to meet women. The book became a cult favorite and a bestseller, and Birmingham became known as the voice of the Australian youth culture in the late 1990s. He followed He Died with a Felafel in His Hand with a sequel, The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, and How to Be a Man, yet another humorous book. While turning out these humorous offerings, he was also hard at work on a long-term project that was eventually published as Leviathan: The Unauthorized Biography of Sydney. This book, intended to be a quasi-homage to the colorful city of Sydney, Australia, eventually became a controversial exploration of 200 years of power and corruption in that city.
Working on Leviathan was such an intense project that Birmingham gave himself some diversion from it by working for an hour each day on a techno-thriller novel that was eventually published as Weapons of Choice. This novel, the first in a projected series, was inspired by the author's fear of the effects that ongoing war will have on society. This alternate history features the crew of a futuristic battleship, the USS Hillary Clinton, as they find themselves transported to World War II and the battle of Midway Island in the Pacific. The time-travelers are shocked and horrified by the sexist, racist behaviors of twentieth-century people, who in turn are nearly driven mad by the sight of women and African-Americans in positions of power. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada praised the author's "high-tech intrigue and suspense."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Weapons of Choice, p. 343.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Weapons of Choice, p. 62.
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 2004, review of Weapons of Choice, p. 49.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (May 9, 2005), review of He Died with a Felafel in His Hand.
AllSciFi.com, http://www.allscifi.com/ (May 9, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Weapons of Choice.
Northern Rivers Echo Online, http://www.echonews.com/ (May 9, 2005), "John Birmingham."
University of Newcastle Web site, http://www.newcastle.edu.au/ (May 5, 2005), Adam Denny, "John Birmingham: The Evolution of a Fringe Literary Madonna."