Francis Spufford

Goodreads Author

in Cambridge, The United Kingdom

Member Since
July 2016

Spufford began as a writer of non-fiction, though always with a strong element of story-telling. Among his early books are I May Be Some Time, The Child That Books Built, and Backroom Boys. He has also edited two volumes of polar literature. But beginning in 2010 with Red Plenty, which explored the Soviet Union around the time of Sputnik using a mixture of fiction and history, he has been drawing steadily closer and closer to writing novels, and after a slight detour into religious controversy with Unapologetic, arrived definitely at fiction in 2016 with Golden Hill. It won the Costa First Novel Award for 2017 and three other prizes, and was shortlisted for three more. His next book Light Perpetual, due February 2021, shifts from New York t ...more

First Chapter

I've just added a new video of me reading aloud the whole opening chapter of Light Perpetual. It's not from the audiobook – that's being read by the excellent Imogen Church. This is just another piece of authorial home-brew.
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Published on January 10, 2021 09:04 Tags: light-perpetual
Average rating: 3.86 · 17,732 ratings · 2,699 reviews · 20 distinct worksSimilar authors
Golden Hill

3.79 avg rating — 10,625 ratings — published 2016 — 7 editions
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Red Plenty

4.09 avg rating — 3,111 ratings — published 2007 — 29 editions
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Unapologetic: Why, Despite ...

3.99 avg rating — 1,483 ratings — published 2012 — 15 editions
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The Child That Books Built:...

3.48 avg rating — 859 ratings — published 2002 — 9 editions
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Light Perpetual

3.85 avg rating — 925 ratings — published 2021 — 10 editions
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Backroom Boys: The Secret R...

4.03 avg rating — 298 ratings — published 2003 — 5 editions
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I May Be Some Time: Ice and...

3.86 avg rating — 147 ratings — published 1996 — 8 editions
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The Antarctic: An Anthology

4.02 avg rating — 49 ratings — published 2007 — 5 editions
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True Stories: And Other Essays

3.73 avg rating — 40 ratings6 editions
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Cultural Babbage

3.24 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 1996 — 2 editions
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More books by Francis Spufford…

Francis’s Recent Updates

Francis Spufford rated a book it was amazing
The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
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Hopeland by Ian McDonald
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Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Francis Spufford voted for Piranesi as Best Fantasy in the Final Round of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
" I’m a slow writer anyway, I’m afraid, but the wait would have been shorter if I hadn’t got distracted by writing something unpublishable in between. N ...more "
Francis Spufford made a comment on their review of Piranesi
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
" Elizabeth, sorry, there's no mystery here. I wrote my little review nearly a year ago, when no-one had seen the book at all, and all I wanted to do, w ...more "
Francis Spufford rated a book it was amazing
A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky
A City Dreaming
by Daniel Polansky (Goodreads Author)
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Francis Spufford and 43 other people liked Sara's review of Piranesi:
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
"Utterly unputdownable is the only way to describe this book. Susanna Clarke left me totally breathless with this gorgeous tale of modern day magic that echoes with the deeper, darker, older world of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell." Piranesi, named " Read more of this review »
Francis Spufford and 6 other people liked Lauren's review of Piranesi:
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
"Electronic ARC provided by Edelweiss.

Piranesi is nothing at all like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but it might be even more brilliant. It's best to go into this book with no expectations and just let it unfold. The setting is both surreal and pe" Read more of this review »
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
" I did indeed have Ilf and Petrov in mind in the Chekuskin chapter: a good catch on your part. (Did you know that Khrushchev, not otherwise much of a r ...more "
More of Francis's books…
“I can always tell when you're reading somewhere in the house,' my mother used to say. 'There's a special silence, a reading silence.”
Francis Spufford, The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading

“He cannot do anything deliberate now. The strain of his whole weight on his outstretched arms hurts too much. The pain fills him up, displaces thought, as much for him as it has for everyone else who has ever been stuck to one of these horrible contrivances, or for anyone else who dies in pain from any of the world’s grim arsenal of possibilities. And yet he goes on taking in. It is not what he does, it is what he is. He is all open door: to sorrow, suffering, guilt, despair, horror, everything that cannot be escaped, and he does not even try to escape it, he turns to meet it, and claims it all as his own. This is mine now, he is saying; and he embraces it with all that is left in him, each dark act, each dripping memory, as if it were something precious, as if it were itself the loved child tottering homeward on the road. But there is so much of it. So many injured children; so many locked rooms; so much lonely anger; so many bombs in public places; so much vicious zeal; so many bored teenagers at roadblocks; so many drunk girls at parties someone thought they could have a little fun with; so many jokes that go too far; so much ruining greed; so much sick ingenuity; so much burned skin. The world he claims, claims him. It burns and stings, it splinters and gouges, it locks him round and drags him down…

All day long, the next day, the city is quiet. The air above the city lacks the usual thousand little trails of smoke from cookfires. Hymns rise from the temple. Families are indoors. The soldiers are back in barracks. The Chief Priest grows hoarse with singing. The governor plays chess with his secretary and dictates letters. The free bread the temple distributed to the poor has gone stale by midday, but tastes all right dipped in water or broth. Death has interrupted life only as much as it ever does. We die one at a time and disappear, but the life of the living continues. The earth turns. The sun makes its way towards the western horizon no slower or faster than it usually does.

Early Sunday morning, one of the friends comes back with rags and a jug of water and a box of the grave spices that are supposed to cut down on the smell. She’s braced for the task. But when she comes to the grave she finds that the linen’s been thrown into the corner and the body is gone. Evidently anonymous burial isn’t quite anonymous enough, after all. She sits outside in the sun. The insects have woken up, here at the edge of the desert, and a bee is nosing about in a lily like silk thinly tucked over itself, but much more perishable. It won’t last long. She takes no notice of the feet that appear at the edge of her vision. That’s enough now, she thinks. That’s more than enough.

Don’t be afraid, says Yeshua. Far more can be mended than you know.

She is weeping. The executee helps her to stand up.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

“When I'm tired and therefore indecisive, it can take half an hour to choose the book I am going to have with me while I brush my teeth.”
Francis Spufford, The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading


What will be our April 2020 Open Pick?

Remember, if you vote for a book and it wins, you are implicitly promising to read the book and participate in the discussion. If you fail to join in, something unspeakable will befall you.

The poll will end at 11:59 pm on March 1st

  6 votes, 40.0%

  5 votes, 33.3%

  3 votes, 20.0%

  1 vote, 6.7%


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