Tom Crewe

Tom Crewe’s first novel, The New Life, won the 2023 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. He is a contributing editor at the LRB.

A Soft Pear: Totally Tourgenueff

Tom Crewe, 21 April 2022

Around six in the morning​ on 19 January 1870, at the Roquette Prison in the eleventh arrondissement, Ivan Turgenev watched as a man was prepared for the guillotine. Four months earlier, Jean-Baptiste Troppmann had murdered, for money, the entire Kinck family – the owner of an engineering works, his heavily pregnant wife and their six children – and buried them in a shallow...

Diary: Wrestling Days

Tom Crewe, 16 December 2021

Noone could understand. My dad used to come in, glare at the TV and stalk off. My mum was bemused. My brother detested it. Once it was no longer cool, the other kids mocked me, and eventually I stopped mentioning it. I didn’t mind the secrecy – my passion acquired a pure intensity this way, stoppered up like a gin. But where did it come from? I liked reading, hated sports, was...

Short Cuts: Found Objects

Tom Crewe, 12 August 2021

Someone​ had emptied a dead relative’s attic and sent the contents to be valued. One drawer contained a parasol the colour and texture of a desiccated insect, a pair of reading glasses and a small stiff velvet purse, sugared with mould. Inside the purse were several greenish Victorian coins, bunched familiarly: the loose change left over from a day populated by the long dead. I was...

Diary: Homelooseness

Tom Crewe, 22 April 2021

I’vebeen home only once since Christmas 2019. Home with a capital ‘H’ is the North-East of England, where I grew up and where my parents still live. The government’s most unambiguous message during Covid – ‘Stay at Home’ – contains, for a lot of people, an ambiguity: staying at home has often meant staying away from Home. In truth, I’m...

‘Watching a good plot,’ Penelope Fitzgerald wrote in the LRB (21 February 1980),

is like watching something alive, or if it is adroit and sinuous enough, something struggling for life. Between the once-born and the twice-born plot (which makes the reader, even if he is reading it for the twentieth time, want to interfere at every stage), the difference, of course, is great. But I am...

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