Jones, Russell Celyn 1955-
JONES, Russell Celyn 1955-
Born 1955, in London, England; son of Richard Eric Celyn (a customs and excise officer) and Grace Amelia Jones; married Barbara Ann Shacochis (marriage ended, 2000); children: Rebecca Grace, Rachel Amanda, Ben Richard. Ethnicity: "Anglo-Saxon." Education: University of London, B.A., University of Iowa, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, surfing.
Home—London, England. Office—Department of English and Comparative Literature Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, England. Agent—Derek Johns, A. P. Watt, 20 John St., London SC1N 2DR, England. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].
Writer. Lecturer in writing program, University of Warwick, Coventry, England. Judge for Booker Prize, 2002. Staff reviewer, London Times.
David Higham Prize, for Soldiers and Innocents; Society of Authors award, 1996, for An Interference of Light; Welsh Arts Council Literature Award.
Soldiers and Innocents, J. Cape (London, England), 1990.
Small Times, Viking (London, England), 1992.
An Interference of Light, Viking (London, England), 1995.
The Eros Hunter, Abacus (London, England), 1998.
Surface Tension, Abacus (London, England), 2001.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals and anthologies; contributor of reviews to periodicals, including London Sunday Times and London Review of Books. Author of screenplays and television scripts.
Work has been adapted for BBC Radio and BBC-TV.
British author Russell Celyn Jones has established a reputation for penning novels and stories that tackle difficult topics in a stylish and original way. His novels deal variously with the criminal element in London, the uneasy relationship between parents, children, and siblings, and the consequences of political strife for individuals caught up in it. New Statesman contributor Nicola Upson called Jones "a thoughtful writer with a sensitive approach to conflicts of love and identity." Educated at the University of London and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Jones began publishing fiction in the early 1990s and is recognized for work that is "at once gripping and provocative," to quote Emily Melton in Booklist.
The heroes in Jones's novels challenge stereotypes of English civility and manners. The protagonist of his debut work, Soldiers and Innocents, becomes unhinged after shooting a pregnant civilian in Northern Ireland. Harry Langland in Small Times makes his living as a pickpocket and meets his doom when he tries to rise above his seedy lifestyle. The central character in An Interference of Light, Aaron Lewis, is an American spy trying to steal industry secrets from a group of Welsh slate cutters. As John Melmoth noted in the Times Literary Supplement, Jones is known for his "novels about men who live outside the law. The trick that he turns is to make victims of his protagonists in spite of their unloveliness."
In a London Review of Books critique of Small Times, Jonathan Coe observed that Jones "draws a convincing …portrait of London high and low-life, and sketches in a nimble political parable about 'the new utilitarian culture' without resorting to polemic." Bharat Tandon in the Times Literary Supplement credited Jones with "imagining a contemporary London that sounded neither prissy nor falsely streetwise." The same critic felt that the "sombre tone" of An Interference of Light "can make for some striking images." Tandon added that An Interference of Light "is clearly plotted with great care and intricacy."
The plot of Surface Tension hinges upon the unconventional relationship between siblings Mark and Geena McLuhan. Himself highly educated and reliable, Mark dotes on his older sister even though she haunts the club scene and cannot hold a steady job. When Geena begins having hallucinations, she learns an old family secret: she was adopted in South Africa during the era of apartheid. Geena travels to South Africa to find her birth parents and winds up putting herself in danger: Mark and his father must come to her rescue. Booklist contributor Emily Melton found the story "harrowing" and "imaginative." In his Times Literary Supplement review of the novel, Nick Laird wrote that the plot "moves swiftly in short episodic chapters, and is energized by the shifts from emotional issues to more conventional scenarios such as kidnapping and gun-running. The novel's themes-how history informs contemporary troubles, how reconciliation with the past is necessary to live in the present-neatly underpin both the personal and political situations."
Jones is a staff reviewer for the London Times and a lecturer in creative writing at several universities. He also writes screenplays and television scripts.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2002, Emily Melton, review of Surface Tension, p. 388.
Books, March, 1990, review of Soldiers and Innocents, p. 18.
London Review of Books, March 26, 1992, Jonathan Coe, review of Small Times, p. 21.
New Statesman, April 7, 1995, Phil Edwards, review of An Interference of Light, p. 53; December 4, 1998, Jonathan Coe, review of The Eros Hunter, p. 48; February 5, 2001, Nicola Upson, review of Surface Tension, p. 56.
Observer (London, England), February 16, 1992, David Buckley, review of Small Times, p. 59; April 26, 1998, Bill Saunders, review of Soldiers and Innocents, p. 18.
Times Literary Supplement, February 21, 1992, John Melmoth, "Designer-dipping," p. 18; February 4, 1995, Bharat Tandon, "Secrets in Stones," p. 20; January 19, 2001, Nick Laird, "The Sweetheart Impulse," p. 24.
Crime Time online,http://www.crimetime.co.uk/bookreviews/ (May 15, 2003), Ingrid Yornstrand, review of Surface Tension.