R.I.P. Alan Sillitoe
One of my great heroes, Alan Sillitoe, an Angry Young Man of British fiction, died at Charing Cross hospital in London today, aged 82.
Sillitoe is survived by his wife, the poet Ruth Fainlight, his daughter Susan and son David.
Sillitoe worked in a bicycle factory in his native Nottingham before serving in the RAF. His breakthrough came with the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 1958. It was made into a film starring Albert Finney, as was his next novel, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, which featured Tom Courtenay. Both are seen as classic examples of kitchen sink dramas reflecting the reality of life in mid-century Britain.
What saddens me a little is that Sillitoe also wrote a great many other good novels and a vast number of terrific short stories, but people only mention the neo-realist ones and the ones that were filmed. His mad fable Travels In Nihilon is a classic, and his fans know that he developed far beyond his early books. If you like Sillitoe and haven’t read others, check them out.