Peace, David 1967-
Peace, David 1967-
Born 1967, in Ossett, West Yorkshire, England.
Named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists, 2003; James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, 2004, for GB84.
GB84, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2004.
The Damned Utd, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2006.
Tokyo Year Zero, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.
"RED RIDING QUARTET" SERIES
Nineteen Seventy-four, Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 2000.
Nineteen Seventy-seven, Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 2000.
Nineteen Eighty, Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 2001.
Nineteen Eighty-three, Serpent's Tail (London, England), 2002.
The Damned Utd has been adapted for a film, The Damned United, by BBC Films and Left Bank Pictures, 2009.
British author David Peace has, according to Toby Lichtig, writing in the New Statesman, "carved a niche for himself writing gritty novels based on real events, suffused with violence, grief, noirish anxiety, in clipped, repetitive, minimalist prose." Among these is his "Red Riding Quartet," a series of books based on the Yorkshire Ripper; GB84, which is an evocation of a miners' strike in England during the tenure of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; The Damned Utd, a depiction of the forty-four days that the manager Brian Clough helmed the Leeds United soccer team; and, in 2007, Tokyo Year Zero, an edgy crime novel set in Tokyo amid the ruins of a postwar world.
With his first novel, Nineteen Seventy-four, Peace pays tribute to George Orwell's seminal dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-four. In Peace's novel, based on the famous Yorkshire Ripper murders, reporter Edward Dunsford uncovers sexual improprieties among political figures, police brutality toward ethnic minorities, and unethical media figures while investigating a series of bizarre child murders in the two weeks before Christmas, 1974, in Yorkshire, England. Critics noted that Peace's story is permeated by violence, its protagonist both haunted by the brutality he has witnessed and detached emotionally from those around him. The violence is counter-pointed by what George Needham characterized in a Booklist review as "the bland pap of Christmas carols and mind-numbing 1970s pop music." Like Orwell's novel, the narrator of Nineteen Seventy-four leads a naive protagonist on a tour of societal breakdown that horrifies and overwhelms. Unlike the earlier fiction, however, Peace's novel is not a projection into a future society, but a backward glance at what Needham called "the shabby and unethical recent past" out of which the present reality has grown.
Follow-up titles in the series include Nineteen Seventy-seven, Nineteen Eighty, and Nineteen Eighty-three. In an overview of the first three books in the series for New Statesman, Nicola Upson called Nineteen Seventy-four "a refreshingly gritty, passionate and original addition to the overstocked shelves of crime fiction. Its follow-up, Nineteen Seventy-seven, which delved deeper into the Ripper inquiry, was, in hindsight, a transition novel through which Peace strengthened his voice and experimented stylistically. Both books promised something special, and … Nineteen Eighty, delivers it…. Peace's writing centres on moral ambiguity, on essentially good characters capable of bad acts, or vice versa."
Peace, who has lived in Japan since 1994, wrote a novel closer to his adopted home with Tokyo Year Zero. He "bases this riveting novel on a real-life serial-killer case in post-WWII Japan," a reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted. Inspector Minami of the Tokyo police investigates a series of murders set off by the discovery of the corpse of a young woman in a Tokyo park on the very day of the Japanese surrender. This body is followed by others, and Minami and his team of fellow officers battle against time to stop the string of brutal murders.
Peace does not write simply a standard crime novel or historical mystery. Instead, as several critics pointed out, he imbues his inspector with full panoply of character traits: Minami is married and has two children. Though a seasoned officer, he also has his dark side: he is addicted to sedatives, has a mistress, and is partly under the control of a Tokyo mobster. The Publishers Weekly reviewer further observed that Peace "delivers an expressionistic portrait of a harrowing, devastated time and place." Similar praise came from Spectator critic Andrew Taylor, who commented: "Dark and relentless, Tokyo Year Zero is not for the faint-hearted but it's a considerable achievement." Not all reviewers were so impressed, however. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Ed Wright found the novel "somewhat disappointing, its excellent story and evocation of place undermined by a misplaced emphasis on style that left me wishing Peace had allowed his book to breathe." London Sunday Times writer John Dugdale observed that the trilogy that Tokyo Year Zero was intended to inaugurate "looks like a wrong turning." In contrast, Giles Whittell, reviewing the novel in the London Times, commented that Tokyo Year Zero is "conviction fiction of a high order," and that "the time, the place, the smell and the sheer pity of defeat are brilliantly evoked." And Angel Gurria-Quintana, writing in London's Financial Times, called Tokyo Year Zero "powerful, exhausting and uncomfortable," adding that it was a "tribute to its author that the reader can be made to feel claustrophobic and itchy, somehow sullied, yet is unable to abandon the book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1999, George Needham, review of Nineteen Seventy-four, p. 509.
Financial Times (London, England), August 4, 2007, Angel Gurria-Quintana, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Independent (London, England), August 10, 2007, Joan Smith, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Manchester Guardian, August 11, 2007, Ian Sanson, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
New Statesman, September 4, 2000, Nicola Upson, review of Nineteen Seventy-seven, p. 43; August 20, 2001, Nicola Upson, interview with David Peace; August 20, 2007, Toby Lichtig, review of Tokyo Year Zero, p. 49.
New York Times Book Review, December 9, 2007, Christopher Sorrentino, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Observer (London, England), August 5, 2007, Tim Adams, review of Tokyo Year Zero; May 4, 2008, Tim Lewis, "My Sporting Life: David Peace."
Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2001, "November Publications," p. 39; July 9, 2007, review of Tokyo Year Zero, p. 29.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 6, 2007, John Freeman, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Spectator, September 19, 2007, Andrew Taylor, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Sunday Times (London, England), August 26, 2007, John Dugdale, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia), November 24, 2007, Ed Wright, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Times (London, England), September 1, 2007, Giles Whittell, review of Tokyo Year Zero.
Stop Smiling Online,http://www.stopsmilingonline.com/ (November 27, 2006), Steve Finbow, interview with David Peace.
Time Out London,http://www.timeout.com/ (August 22, 2006), Peter Watts, "Dave Peace: Interview."