Miller, Andrew 1960–

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Miller, Andrew 1960–

(Andrew M. Miller)

PERSONAL: Born April 29, 1960, in Bristol, England; son of K.W.T. (a physician) and M.A. (a counselor) Miller; married, 1985 (divorced, 1990); children: Frieda Kathleen. Education: Middlesex Polytechnic, graduated (first class honors), 1985; University of East Anglia, M.A., 1991; Lancaster University, Ph.D., 1995

ADDRESSES: Home—Brighton, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Taught English in Avila and Barcelona, Spain, and Tokyo, Japan; has also worked in a chicken abattoir for the government social services department.

AWARDS, HONORS: James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, 1997, Premio Grinzane Cavour award (Italy), 1997, and IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 1999, all for Ingenious Pain; shortlisted for Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, both 2001, both for Oxygen.

WRITINGS:

Ingenious Pain (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 1997.

Casanova in Love (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1998, published as Casanova, Sceptre (London, England), 1998.

Oxygen (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 2002.

The Optimists, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.

Contributor of short story to the anthology Doctor Who: More Short Trips, 1999.

ADAPTATIONS: Ingenious Pain and Casanova in Love were both adapted for film.

SIDELIGHTS: Since his debut, the award-winning Ingenious Pain, Andrew Miller has gained a reputation as a novelist to be taken seriously. Ingenious Pain and its follow-up, Casanova in Love, are both historical tales, the latter being a biography of sorts of the legendary lover. Miller employs passages from Casanova's own memoirs to help move the story, which follows the middle-aged seducer during his days in London. Nearing forty, Casanova falls under the spell of the young beauty Marie Charpillon, who easily matches wits with her ardent suitor. Hoping to win her hand, Casanova tries to earn money as an "onion-eater" (laborer), among other menial tasks. "Mais non, this is not the Giacomo Casanova we have come to expect," wrote Robert Brown in a Library Journal review, praising Miller's handling of the story. Time contributor John Elson and a Publishers Weekly contributor both recommended the novel. Elson labeled Miller's work "stylish," while the Publishers Weekly contributor found that the author "brings new wit and vividness to a dauntingly loveable, well-documented life and milieu."

After two historical novels, Miller moved to a contemporary setting with Oxygen, an "involving and perplexing departure," according to Times Literary Supplement contributor Royce Mahawatte. Two brothers have returned to their West Country home to nurse their mother, Alice, who is dying of cancer. The siblings could not be more different: Alec is a shy and bookish translator, while Larry is a washed-up soap-opera star "contemplating a career in the porn industry," as Mahawatte noted. Interspersed with their story is that of Lazlo Lazar, a Hungarian playwright whose Oxygene Alec has been contracted to translate, an assignment that could make Alec's career. Mahawatte called the relationship between the brothers and their mother the highlight of Oxygen. Helen Brown, writing in the London Daily Telegraph, noted that Miller "has a surgical disdain for sentimentality and cliché, and his startling sentences, both beautiful and distressing, can lodge themselves in your brain."

Miller told a Bookseller contributor that his inspiration for Oxygen stemmed in part from a concern over his own health, "as you can guess from the title. I was having some kind of fairly neurotic breathing difficulty at the time, and going to various doctors and blowing down tubes. It was nothing serious, but as soon as your breathing is affected you become extremely conscious of it." "Cancer is not a promising subject," noted Guardian contributor Alfred Hickling, "yet Miller's evocation of the disease is both piteous and poetic."

In his next novel, The Optimists, Miller tells the story of a photojournalist who witnesses atrocities in Africa. Upon returning to Great Britain, Clem Glass struggles to come to terms with what he has witnessed, while his sister, Clare, suffers from paranoia and hallucinations. Clem initially rejects taking care of his sister as he hunts down another man who witnessed the same atrocities as he had in Africa. Eventually, Clem decides to take care of his sister and ultimately confronts the person responsible for the massacre of women and children. Debra Bendis, writing in the Christian Century, commented that "the author writes with just enough lyric beauty to pull us through difficult realities." In a review in World Literature Today, Richard Henry wrote that the author "explores his characters' varied inabilities to engage successfully with the world." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a powerful study of emotional trauma," while Stephanie Merritt concluded in the Observer: "This is a profound novel, meditative, not conclusive, offering no simplistic answers to what Miller calls 'the vertigo of self-knowledge.'"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Casanova in Love, p. 1967; January 1, 2005, Allison Block, review of The Optimists, p. 820.

Bookseller, July 6, 2001, "Holding Their Breath," p. 33.

Bulletin with Newsweek, January 26, 1999, Penelope Nelson, "Recasting Casanova," p. 71.

Christian Century, June 27, 2006, Debra Bendis, review of The Optimists, p. 35.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), September 15, 2001, Helen Brown, "Fighting for Air."

Eighteenth-Century Studies, summer, 2000, Cynthia Craig, "Casanova at the Bicentenary: Familiar Questions, New Directions," p. 579.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 16, 2005, Jean McNeil, review of The Optimists, p. D9.

Guardian (London, England), August 25, 2001, Alfred Hickling, review of Oxygen, p. 8; March 19, 2005, James Buchan, review of The Optimists.

Independent (London, England), September 1, 2001, James Urquhart, "Beyond the Pursuit of Happiness," p. WR9.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1998, review of Casanova in Love, p. 1146; January 1, 2005, review of The Optimists, p. 14.

Library Journal, August, 1998, Robert Brown, review of Casanova in Love, p. 133; December 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Optimists, p. 88; January 1, 2005, Christopher J. Korenowsky, review of The Optimists, p. 99.

New Statesman, November 13, 1998, Jane Jakeman, review of Casanova, p. 45.

New York Times Book Review, October 25, 1998, Lorna Sage, "The Rake's Progress," p. 14; November 22, 1998, review of Ingenious Pain, p. 42; December 6, 1998, review of Ingenious Pain, p. 97.

Observer (London, England), February 15, 1998, review of Ingenious Pain, p. 16; August 30, 1998, review of Casanova, p. 16; March 20, 2005, Stephanie Merritt, review of The Optimists.

Publishers Weekly, August 3, 1998, review of Casanova in Love, p. 71; January 17, 2005, review of The Optimists, p. 33.

Seattle Times, May 1, 2005, Michael Upchurch, review of The Optimists.

Spectator, September 19, 1998, Katie Grant, review of Casanova, p. 42; July 3, 1999, review of Ingenious Pain, p. 32; January 21, 2002, review of Oxygen, p. 60.

Time, October 19, 1998, John Elson, review of Casanova in Love, p. 114.

Times (London, England), March 5, 2005, Russell Ceylan Jones, review of The Optimists.

Times Literary Supplement, September 4, 1998, David Coward, review of Casanova, p. 10; September 7, 2001, Royce Mahawatte, "Barely Connecting," p. 11.

Washington Post, May 18, 1999, "Debut Novel Makes an IMPAC," p. C04.

Washington Post Book World, November 8, 1998, review of Casanova in Love, p. 45.

World Literature Today, May-June, 2006, Richard Henry, review of The Optimists, p. 69.

ONLINE

Andrew Miller Home Page, http://www.andrewmiller-author.co.uk (September 4, 2006).

Electica, http://www.eclectica.org/ (September 4, 2006), Colleen Mondor, review of The Optimists.

Scotsman Scotland on Sunday Web site, http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/ (March 20, 2005), Andrew Crumey, review of The Optimists.

Ukula, http://www.ukula.com/ (September 4, 2006), Valerie Howes, "Illuminating Darkness: A Conversation with Andrew Miller."

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