John Burnside

in Dunfermline, Scotland
March 19, 1955


John Burnside is the author of nine collections of poetry and five works of fiction. Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim, winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T. S. Eliot prizes. Born in Scotland, he moved away in 1965, returning to settle there in 1995. In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand, a labourer, a gardener and, for ten years, as a computer systems designer. He now lives in Fife with his wife and children and teaches Creative Writing, Literature and Ecology courses at the University of St Andrews.

[Author photo © Norman McBeath]

Average rating: 3.79 · 8,086 ratings · 1,242 reviews · 72 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Dumb House

3.85 avg rating — 2,251 ratings — published 1997 — 16 editions
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The Glister

3.13 avg rating — 947 ratings — published 2008 — 26 editions
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A Summer of Drowning

3.58 avg rating — 775 ratings — published 2011 — 17 editions
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The Devil's Footprints

3.37 avg rating — 380 ratings — published 2007 — 24 editions
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Black Cat Bone: Poems

4.05 avg rating — 345 ratings — published 2011 — 7 editions
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A Lie About My Father: A Me...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 239 ratings — published 2006 — 13 editions
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Ashland & Vine

3.73 avg rating — 214 ratings — published 2017 — 7 editions
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Something Like Happy

3.71 avg rating — 161 ratings — published 2013 — 4 editions
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All One Breath

4.12 avg rating — 85 ratings — published 2014 — 3 editions
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The Asylum Dance

4.17 avg rating — 81 ratings — published 2000 — 4 editions
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“That's the wonderful thing with nerds: they're enthusiasts. Not having a life means you get to love things with a passion and nobody bothers you about it.”
John Burnside, The Glister
tags: nerds

“My father was one of those men who sit in a room and you can feel it: the simmer, the sense of some unpredictable force that might, at any moment, break loose, and do something terrible. [Burnside, p. 27]”
John Burnside, A Lie About My Father: A Memoir

“and because what we learn in the dark
remains all our lives,
a noise like the sea, displacing the day's
pale knowledge,

you'll come to yourself
in a glimmer of rainfall or frost,
the burnt smell of autumn,
a meeting of parallel lines,

and know you were someone else
for the longest time,
pretending you knew where you were, like a diffident tourist,
lost on the one main square, and afraid to enquire.”
John Burnside, Selected Poems

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