Meek, James 1962-
Meek, James 1962-
Born 1962, in London, England.
Journalist, 1985—. Guardian, London, England, journalist.
McFarlane Boils the Sea (novel), Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1989.
Last Orders and Other Stories, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1992.
Drivetime (novel), Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1995.
The Museum of Doubt (stories), Rebel (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.
The People's Act of Love, Canongate (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Children Of Albion Rovers and The Rovers Return, Rebel. Contributor to London Review of Books and Granta.
British writer James Meek has worked as a journalist since 1985. In addition to his newspaper reporting, he has also published several novels and short-story collections. Having lived in Russia and the Ukraine from 1991 to 1999, Meek put his Russian experiences to use in his 2005 novel, The People's Act of Love, a morality play enacted during the civil war following the 1917 Russian Revolution. Set in a Siberian village, the action deals with the competing struggles between the leader of a religious sect and an escaped convict who fancies himself a terrorist. Thus, on one level, the novel deals with extremism, both political and religious. While the escaped convict, Samarin, dreams of a cleansing of society by revolution, Balashov and his followers attempt to find their own escape from society and the determinism of biology by castration. Meanwhile, the former wife of Balashov now seeks some kind of peace in the arms of the new arrival, Samarin. Further subplots include the adventures of a Czech troop, led by the hard-bitten Matula, who fought on the losing White Russian side in the revolution and who are now trapped in the same Siberian village, far behind enemy lines. A New Yorker reviewer noted that Meek "expertly renders each man's devotion to the task of securing paradise on earth, and exposes the unsettling affinity between the devout servant of God and the cold, calculating murderer."
The People's Act of Love won critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Reviewing the work in the London Spectator, John de Falbe called it a "superb novel," further commenting that "the book's most striking feature is the whirling, pungent, sinister atmosphere, which Meek conjures with dazzling assurance." Similarly, a contributor to Bookseller dubbed the novel "an epic tale set in Russia." Booklist contributor David Wright felt Meek's novel merits comparisons to the writing of Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, and concluded that "this is stunning, masterful fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2005, David Wright, review of The People's Act of Love, p. 31.
Bookseller, July 15, 2004, "Siberian Heights," review of The People's Act of Love, p. 49.
Entertainment Weekly, January 13, 2006, Ben Spier, review of The People's Act of Love, p. 86.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of The People's Act of Love, p. 12.
Library Journal, December 1, 2005, Edward Cone, review of The People's Act of Love, p. 114.
New Yorker, January 9, 2006, review of The People's Act of Love, p. 87.
Spectator, July 23, 2005, John de Falbe, "The Lower End of the Higher Good," review of The People's Act of Love, p. 43.
Canongate Books Web site,http://www.canongate.net/ (October 25, 2006), brief biography of James Meek.*