Picture of author.

Will Self

Author of Great Apes

63+ Works 9,421 Members 180 Reviews 44 Favorited

About the Author

William Woodard "Will" Self was born on September 26, 1961. He is a British author, journalist and political commentator. He wrote ten novels, five collections of short fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing. His novel Umbrella was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. show more His subject matter often includes mental illness, illegal drugs and psychiatry. Self is a regular contributor to publications including Playboy, The Guardian, Harpers, The New York Times and the London Review of Books. He also writes a column for New Statesman, and over the years he has been a columnist for The Observer, The Times and the Evening Standard. His columns for Building Design on the built environment, and for the Independent Magazine on the psychology of place brought him to prominence as a thinker concerned with the politics of urbanism. Will Self will deliver the closing address at the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) 2015. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Will Self, Уилл Селф


Works by Will Self

Great Apes (1997) 1,158 copies
How the Dead Live (2000) 929 copies
My Idea of Fun (1993) 682 copies
Cock & bull (1993) 581 copies
Dorian (2002) 527 copies
Umbrella (2012) 523 copies
Grey Area (1994) 429 copies
Junk mail (1995) 251 copies
The Butt (2008) 242 copies
The Sweet Smell of Psychosis (1996) 232 copies
Feeding Frenzy (2001) 135 copies
Scale (1994) 134 copies
Shark (2014) 104 copies
Phone (2017) 64 copies
A Story for Europe (1996) 63 copies
Psycho Too (2009) 58 copies
Perfidious man (2000) 36 copies
Sore sites (2000) 29 copies
Will (2019) 27 copies
Why Read (2022) 26 copies
No smoking (2009) 11 copies
Pigeons (2014) 9 copies
Slump (1985) 6 copies
Birds of a feather (2015) 3 copies
We 3 copies
Jonas Burgert (2016) 3 copies
Antony Gormley (2001) 2 copies
Zack Busner 1 copy
False Blood 1 copy
Lullaby 1 copy
Apocalypse (2000) 1 copy
How Was Your Day (2017) 1 copy
Classifieds (2002) 1 copy
Self Love 1 copy

Associated Works

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) — Introduction, some editions — 26,134 copies
A Clockwork Orange (1962) — Introduction, some editions — 25,434 copies
Notes from Underground (1864) — Foreword, some editions — 12,140 copies
We: A Novel (1921) — Introduction, some editions — 8,242 copies
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759) — Introduction, some editions — 7,530 copies
The Drowned World (1962) — Introduction, some editions — 2,703 copies
Riddley Walker: Expanded Edition (1998) — Introduction, some editions — 1,328 copies
Riddley Walker (1980) — Introduction, some editions — 1,314 copies
The Colossus of Maroussi (1941) — Introduction, some editions — 1,220 copies
Blue of Noon (1957) — Introduction, some editions — 685 copies
Granta 65: London (1999) — Contributor — 218 copies
Granta 43: Best of Young British Novelists 2 (1993) — Contributor — 176 copies
Granta 117: Horror (2011) — Contributor — 172 copies
Granta 107: Summer Reading (2009) — Contributor — 99 copies
CYBERSEX (1996) — Foreword — 77 copies
The Mammoth Book of New Erotica (1998) — Contributor — 76 copies
Revelation (Pocket Canon) (1997) — Introduction, some editions — 73 copies
Granta 129: Fate (2014) — Contributor — 56 copies
Dark: Stories of Madness, Murder and the Supernatural (2000) — Contributor — 56 copies
2033: Future of Misbehavior (2007) — Contributor — 47 copies
Slinkachu - Big Bad City (2011) — Foreword, some editions — 33 copies
The Complete Uncle (2013) — Contributor, some editions — 30 copies
La Bible (1990) — Preface — 25 copies
The Best British Short Stories 2012 (2012) — Contributor — 16 copies
The Analog Sea Review: Number Two (2019) — Contributor — 12 copies
Ten: A Bloomsbury Tenth Anniversary Anthology (1996) — Contributor — 6 copies
Vox 'n' Roll: Fiction for the 21st Century (2000) — Contributor — 5 copies
Red: The Waterstones Anthology (2012) — Contributor — 5 copies


1001 (319) 1001 books (322) 18th century (342) 19th century (471) 20th century (474) Alice (476) Alice in Wonderland (323) British (634) British literature (562) children (505) children's (726) children's literature (506) classic (1,658) classics (1,545) dystopia (1,764) dystopian (413) ebook (448) England (412) English (394) English literature (683) fantasy (1,889) fiction (8,984) Folio Society (236) humor (356) illustrated (321) Kindle (326) literature (1,640) novel (1,738) own (293) read (1,001) Russia (508) Russian (685) Russian literature (828) satire (422) science fiction (2,860) sf (471) short stories (371) to-read (4,177) unread (533) violence (350)

Common Knowledge



Group Read, September 2019: Great Apes in 1001 Books to read before you die (October 2019)
Umbrella by Will Self in Booker Prize (October 2012)


Probably would have enjoyed this more when it came out, but I don't thin kit has aged very well. Comes across now as pretty self-indulgent, and over-weighting some relatively light philosophy and satire. I did enjoy some bits but ultimately it was a slog.
thisisstephenbetts | 9 other reviews | Nov 25, 2023 |
Author Will Self spends only a few pages on the Situationist origins and subsequent history of the psychogeographical enterprise in this book. He then proceeds to undertake it in something of the form developed by other recent practitioners, such as Peter Ackroyd, Cathy Turner, Nick Papadimitriou, and Iain Sinclair. The 56-page introduction "Walking to New York" seemed very similar in genre and method to Sinclair's The Last London, the principal work in this field that I've previously read, although Self's book was published a full decade earlier. (Dates on the copyright page seem to indicate that portions had been published up to four years prior to that.)

The introduction was slow reading, with its density of introspection and extravagant diction. It recounts Self's "walk to New York" from his home in England--interrupted by a trans-Atlantic airplane flight, of course. Throughout the book, Self boasts his status as one of a dwindling tribe to which I proudly belong. We are transport pedestrians, willing to use our feet to get to places where more conventional members of our societies would use automobiles. But there are many points in the book where he documents his use of other forms of transport. Just as the focus is not exclusively perambulatory, neither is it solely urban.

After "Walking to New York," the book's remaining two hundred pages flashed by. They entirely consist of two-page vignettes by Self, originally columns in the Independent. Each is accompanied by a full page or two of illustration by the inimitable Ralph Steadman. Steadman's contributions were in fact a chief attraction for me to borrow this book from my local public library. They are reproduced in full color. Self writes, "I wonder sometimes if, like Obelix, Ralph was dropped in a vat of some hallucinogenic potion when he was a child" (175), introducing his collaborator abruptly at the end of an essay on visiting the Netherlands. Steadman's own experiences form the basis for one essay on an encounter with an urban fox (197-9).

The fifty-odd short pieces are not arranged chronologically or geographically. They see-saw among reminiscences of frequently-intoxicated younger adulthood and musings on middle age and parenthood, all concerned with "the modern conundrum of psyche and place." Much of Self's travel has clearly been motivated by his writing, whether in a journalistic mode or researching backgrounds for his fiction "in the interests of verisimilitude" (175). The anecdotes are reliably wry and often very funny. I was especially amused by "Bouncy Metropolis" (145-8) and "Spain - The Final Frontier" (183-6). Often enough, there is an overt punchline, such as the one in "Hitler in Rio" (123-5).

Those already familiar with and agreeable toward psychogeography should enjoy this book. To the less informed reader, I might recommend starting with the Wikipedia article on the topic, followed by the short essays in this book, and then finishing with the long introduction. The contents of this volume still merit readers' attention in a world where "psyche and place" have only become more estranged in the ensuing years.
… (more)
paradoxosalpha | 9 other reviews | Aug 26, 2023 |
Structurally, this is a novel preceded and followed by novellas, seemingly unrelated, though there are a few scattered allusions in the last two to the events described in the first work. The main novel describes a surreal walk through Los Angeles by a superhero detective attempting to discover the identity of the individual who murdered the movies, whilst occasionally dropping in on the set of a movie being made about his walk. The first novella describes in sarcastic detail the pretentions of the art world as the narrator follows around a boyhood pal, a dwarf who globetrots the world constructing installations which are giant images of himself. The final novella narrates the findings of a sufferer from dementia as he walks an English coastline pitched somewhere between surrealism and minimalism. Yes, blurbers, the author is witty and erudite--I might have appreciated the erudition more if he hadn't sent me to the dictionary multiple times per page-- but , too long by half, this book is more to be appreciated than enjoyed. I never looked forward to my time with it.… (more)
Big_Bang_Gorilla | 4 other reviews | Aug 16, 2023 |
Almost every time I picked up this book to read it, I fell asleep. Now that may be a coincidence, but it's certainly not an endorsement.

Umbrella tells the story of Audrey Death, a munitions worker during the Great War, who contracts a brain disease and is confined to a lunatic asylum in a state of catatonia. The other key character is Dr Zack Busner, the psychotherapist who is treating her decades later.

The book is written as one continuous stream; there are no chapters and few paragraph breaks. Self frequently shifts his narrative to a different time, setting and protagonist in the middle of a sentence. I often found myself re-reading a page a couple of times to figure out what he was on about now. This is made worse by his repeatedly chucking in italicised words and phrases to no discernable purpose.

I suppose this is all supposed to represent the chaos going on inside Audrey's diseased mind but it is really irritating. The book is almost 400pp already; it doesn't need to be made any more verbose. Self's narrative is simply not interesting enough to put up with these mannerisms.

There is the germ of a good story here, but this Self-indulgent writing style has turned it into a snooze-fest - in my case literally.
… (more)
gjky | 20 other reviews | Apr 9, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Janet Woolley Cover artist


Also by

Charts & Graphs