Nick Hornby has come to define a certain populist strain in British fiction in the 1990’s and at the turn of the millennium. He was born in Highbury in suburban north London, where he continued to live and which provided the settings for his books. His parents divorced when he was a boy; his mother’s relative poverty and his father’s more affluent lifestyle in France with his second family affected Hornby’s choice of friends and pastimes, including collecting pop music and watching football (soccer). The latter, which began as a way of forging a relationship with his father during his infrequent visits, became a lifelong obsession, described in his memoir, Fever Pitch. Hornby graduated from Cambridge with an English degree, then worked as a teacher and journalist, contributing to magazines such as Esquire, GQ, Elle, Time, Vogue, and The New Republic. He also served as the pop music critic for The New Yorker; his fascination with music formed the basis of his first novel, High Fidelity. Hornby’s stable marriage served as a contrast to the chronically restless and promiscuous lives of his characters. The demands of caring for his autistic son, Danny, revealed a maturer, more responsible side to Hornby, who edited the short-story anthology Speaking with the Angel as a fund-raising project in support of autistic children.
Hornby’s aesthetic principles can be gleaned from his critical text, Contemporary American Fiction, in which he makes clear his admiration for American writers such as Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Richard Ford, and Tobias Wolff, known as “dirty realists” for their gritty, working-class characters and settings as well as their plain,...
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