Education: Graduate of Oxford University.
Discover Award for Nonfiction, Barnes & Noble, 2003, for A Sideways Look at Time.
Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, Flamingo (London, England), 1999, published as A Sideways Look at Time, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Wild: An Elemental Journey, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including London Review of Books, Guardian, Observer, Ecologist, New Internationalist, Utne, and Artists Newsletter.
British journalist and author Jay Griffiths is the author of works which explore a variety of topics. In Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time (published in the United States as A Sideways Look at Time), she presents a philosophical discussion on how different cultures and different eras dealt with the concept of time. She questions the modern concept of a clock-driven society, and explores more natural forms of time's measurement, as in seasonal time, solar, lunar, and even time as measured by a female's menstrual cycle. Peter Forbes, writing in the Guardian Online, was not impressed with Griffiths's debut effort as a book author, complaining that her "one-track attitude and prose blindness lead to … unintentionally Bonzo Dog Dooda-ish phrases." However, Ecologist contributor Hugh Warwick was more positive in his assessment, commenting that Pip Pip "manages to be both revolutionary and readable." Similarly, a critic for the New Internationalist called the same work a "splendidly quirky book," as well as "provocative, impassioned, often outrageously witty."
Griffiths continued to question assumptions of Western society in her 2006 work, Wild: An Elemental Journey, "an exhaustive and at times exhausting book on all things wild," according to Library Journal contributor Lee Arnold. Dividing the concept of wild into six categories—earth, ice, water, air, fire, mind—Griffiths explores regions from the rain forests of the Amazon to Mongolia, looking at the role of the wild in history and in society in general, and concluding that the modern world has marginalized the wild both in nature and in the interior lives of modern humans. Thus, even as we destroy the last pieces of the wild in the world, we are also destroying the sense of the wild in ourselves. Seven years in the writing, Wild took Griffiths not just on an international journey to the remaining wild areas of the world, but also on a journey of discovery with some of the remaining indigenous people that inhabit such locales as the Canadian Arctic or the outback of Indonesia. Her experiences ranged from ingesting a hallucinogenic drink administered by a shaman to learning an appreciation for the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal people. While Arnold felt that the work was "preachy" in tone, and that its author seemed "pompous, self-absorbed, and pretentious," other reviewers had a much higher opinion of the work. A Kirkus Reviews critic thought Wild was "an exuberant and erudite exploration of the meaning of wilderness and its place in our lives." The same reviewer further termed the book a "fascinating journey." A Publishers Weekly contributor, though, feeling the book lacked "nuance," still praised Griffiths for bringing "fierce conviction and impressive scholarship to her work." Similarly, New York Times Book Review critic Elizabeth Royte praised Griffiths's "dexterous and lush" writing, yet complained of a lack of cohesion and overview to the assorted essays. A reviewer for Internet Bookwatch concluded that Wild was "fascinating, dramatic, [and] moving."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ecologist, April 1, 2000, Hugh Warwick, review of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, p. 55.
Internet Bookwatch, March 1, 2007, review of Wild: An Elemental Journey.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Wild, p. 1055.
Library Journal, November 15, 2006, Lee Arnold, review of Wild, p. 86.
New Internationalist, December 1, 2000, review of Pip Pip, p. 32.
New York Times Book Review, February 11, 2007, Elizabeth Royte, review of Wild, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 2006, review of Wild, p. 49.
Adelaide Festival of Ideas Web site,http://www.adelaidefestivalofideas.com.au/ (April 15, 2007), "Jay Griffiths."
Barnes & Noble.com,http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (April 15, 2007), "Interview: Jay Griffiths."
Guardian Online,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (December 11, 1999), Peter Forbes, review of Pip Pip.
London Independent Online,http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (March 9, 2004), "Griffiths' Time Arrives as Lit Brits Storm US Awards."