Life After Life (Atkinson)

Author Bio
Where—York, England, UK
Education—M.A., Dundee University
Awards—Whitbread Award; Woman's Own Short Story Award; Ian St. James Award;
   Saltire Book of the Year Award; Prix Westminster
Currently—lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Kate Atkinson was born in York, and studied English Literature at the University of Dundee, gaining her Masters Degree in 1974. She subsequently studied for a doctorate in American Literature which she failed at the viva stage. During her final year of this course, she was married for the first time, although the marriage lasted only two years.

After leaving the university, she took on a variety of miscellaneous jobs from home help to legal secretary and teacher. She lived in Whitby, Yorkshire for a time, before moving to Edinburgh, where she taught at Dundee University and began writing short stories. She now lives in Edinburgh.

She initially wrote for women's magazines after winning the 1986 Woman's Own Short Story Competition. She was runner-up for the Bridport Short Story Prize in 1990 and won an Ian St James Award in 1993 for her short-story "Karmic Mothers," which she later adapted for BBC2 television as part of its Tartan Shorts series.

Atkinson's breakthrough was with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year award, ahead of Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh and Roy Jenkins biography of William Ewart Gladstone. The book has been adapted for radio, theatre and television. She has since written several more novels, short stories and a play. Case Histories (2004) was described by Stephen King as "the best mystery of the decade." The book won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

Her work is often celebrated for its wit, wisdom and subtle characterisation, and the surprising twists and plot turns. Four of her novels have featured the popular former detective Jackson Brodie—Case Histories (2004), One Good Turn (2006), When Will There Be Good News (2008), and Started Early, Took My Dog (2010). She has shown that, stylistically, she is also a comic novelist who often juxtaposes mundane everyday life with fantastic magical events, a technique that contributes to her work's pervasive magic realism.

Life After Life (2013) revolves around Ursula Todd's continual birth and rebirth. Janet Maslin of the New York Times called it "a big book that defies logic, chronology and even history in ways that underscore its author's fully untethered imagination."

A God in Ruins (2015), the companion book to Life After Life, follows Ursula's brother Todd who survived the war, only to succumb to disillusionment and guilt at having survived.

Atkinson was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)

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