Adam Mars-Jones

Adam Mars-Jones

Box Hill is Adam Mars-Jones’s first novel in a decade. His collection of stories Lantern Lecture won a 1982 Somerset Maugham Award, and he has since published a debut novel, Pilcrow (2008), and a second novel, Cedilla (2011). Other books include Noriko Smiling (2011, focused on Yasujiro Ozu), a memoir, Kid Gloves (2015), and a selection of film writings, Second Sight (2019). He writes book reviews for the Observer and the London Review of Books.

Box Hill

Fiction by Adam Mars-Jones

In Box Hill, a vivid coming-of-age novel, a young man suddenly wakes up to his gay self—on his eighteenth birthday, when he receives the best gift ever: love and sex. In the woodsy cruising grounds of Box Hill, chubby Colin literally stumbles over glamorous Ray—ten years older, leather-clad, cool, handsome, a biker, and a top. (Colin, if largely unformed, is nevertheless decidedly a bottom.) Colin narrates his love—conveying how mind-blowing being with Ray is—in comically humble-pie terms.…
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A tender exploration of the love that truly dare not speak its name – that between master and slave. On his eighteenth birthday, Colin literally stumbles upon a strapping biker twice his age, and falls into a long-term relationship characterised by devotion, mystery, and submission. In plain unadorned prose, Mars-Jones shows us the tender, everyday nature of this. Self-deprecating, sad, and wise.
—Fiona McGregor
If Tom Of Finland had grown up in deepest Surrey in the 1970s, his homoerotic sketches of muscly motorcyclists and police officers might’ve resembled the men depicted in this slim, smouldering novel…A vividly realised coming-of-age tale, Mars-Jones – known for his elegant fiction as well as penetrating literary criticism – lets it all hang out in this quietly powerful exploration of sexuality, sadomasochism and the self.
Buzz Magazine
A well-made piece of work, with prose as witty – if not quite as rich, which is appropriate – as well as being sad and strange: the ballad of Colin and Ray.
Sydney Morning Herald
There’s an endearing anti-glamour to this novel, from its geographical setting — the bikers live in suburban locales rarely featured in contemporary fiction, such as Woking and West Byfleet — to its affectionate evocation of the cultural landscape of the 1970s — a world of shandies, Wimpy, Advocaat, obsolescent British-made bikes and the word ‘naff.’
—Houman Barekat, Spectator
It is a testament to Mars-Jones’s skill that we finish the book with everything illuminated, and yet, quite properly, everything left in the dark.
Telegraph
A clever and subtle novel.
—Max Liu, Financial Times
A subtle, biting novella…Although repressed boomers of Surrey are probably not the target audience of this intimate, stirring novel, they would probably enjoy this portrait of an impossibly lost age.
—Martin Chilton, Independent
An exquisitely discomfiting tale of a submissive same-sex relationship… perfectly realised.
—Anthony Cummins, Observer
The biggest small book of the year.
Guardian
Adam Mars-Jones has never needed to write at great length to convince readers of his talent…Mars-Jones’s latest work is a sliver of a novel that provides ample evidence of his prowess…Box Hill is not a novel for the prudish, but it is a masterclass in authorial control…Despite its diminutive length, it is rich with detail and complexity, and has plenty to demonstrate Mars-Jones’s well-deserved place on any list of our best.
—Alex Nurnberg, Sunday Times
Mars-Jones colors Colin’s tender reminiscences with humor, sex, and tragedy. This is an indelible snapshot of 1970s English gay biker culture.
Publishers Weekly
Mars-Jones’ trim, poignant novel humanizes the intricacies of a dominant-submissive gay relationship…. A relationship that could seem profoundly unfair blossoms into a revelation of love and magic.
Kirkus (starred)
I very much enjoyed Box Hill. It is a characteristic Mars-Jones mixture of the shocking, the endearing, the funny, and the sad, with an unforgettable narrator. The sociological detail is as ever acutely enduring.
—Margaret Drabble
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