Andrew Miller
Event 9
Saturday 21st October, 2:30pm 
Little Missenden Village Hall

A Costa Prize winner discusses his work

This is an archived event from the 2017 Programme.

Andrew Miller novelist




Set during the eighteenth century, Andrew Miller's first novel Ingenious Pain (1997), tells the story of surgeon James Dyer and his extraordinary inability to feel pain. 'Astoundingly good' (New York Times Book Review)

It was followed by Casanova (1998), a fictional portrait of the infamous libertine and writer. 'Miller...a writer of haunting originality and diabolic humour' (Charles Flowers)

His next novel, Oxygen (2001), set in England in 1997, narrates two loosely connected stories, those of a dying mother attended by her two sons and a Hungarian playwright living in Paris. 'The author never promises neatness, however, and finally, he does just enough to leave you hanging' (Tim Adams)

His later novels include The Optimists (2005), One Morning Like a Bird (2008), and Pure (2011).

Pure is set in pre-revolutionary France and the upcoming turmoil is a consistent theme throughout. It follows an engineer named Jean-Baptiste Baratte and chronicles his efforts in clearing an overfilled graveyard which is polluting the surrounding area. Baratte makes friends and enemies as the cemetery is both loved and hated by the people of the district.

Andrew was inspired to write about the Les Innocents Cemetery after reading historian Philippe Ariès's brief description of its clearing and imagining the theatrics that must have been involved.

The book received extremely positive reviews and was awarded the Costa Book Award 2011 for "Best Novel" and "Book of the Year", and was nominated for the Walter Scott Prize and South Bank award.

'Pure defies the ordinary conventions of storytelling, slipping dream-like between lucidity and a kind of abstracted elusiveness' (Clare Clark in The Guardian)

Andrew talks about 'Pure'


His latest novel (2015) is The Crossing. Set in the present day, he sees a blossoming relationship between two young people brought together by a love of sailing. But the relationship between Maud, a pharmaceutical researcher, and Tim, a musician, is to be devastated by tragedy. As Tim's family closes ranks around him, Maud embarks on an epic expiatory journey.

Click here to read why he was trying to 'find something new' with The Crossing

Novelist Andrew Miller was born in Bristol in 1960. He's lived and worked in several countries, including Spain, France, Holland and Japan, but now resides near Frome in Somerset. He studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and finished a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing at Lancaster University in 1995. His first novel Ingenious Pain was published in 1997. It won a James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Italian Grinzane Cavour Prize.


  • Ingenious Pain (1997, Sceptre)
  • Casanova (1998, Sceptre)
  • Oxygen (2001, Sceptre)
  • The Optimists (2005, Sceptre)
  • One Morning Like a Bird (2008, Sceptre)
  • Pure (2011, Sceptre)
  • The Crossing (2015, Sceptre)


  • 1997 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Fiction Award, Ingenious Pain
  • 1997 Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy), Best Foreign Fiction, Ingenious Pain
  • 1999 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Winner, Ingenious Pain
  • 2001 Booker Prize for Fiction, Shortlist, Oxygen
  • 2001 Whitbread Novel Award, Shortlist, Oxygen
  • 2011 Costa Book Awards, Best Novel, Pure
  • 2011 Costa Book Awards, Costa Book of the Year, Pure
Andrew will be interviewed by the writer Antonia Honeywell, whose novel The Ship was published in 2015 to great critical acclaim. 'This is a thrilling, provocative and disturbing novel about a young woman coming of age in a world where everything that she has known is under it and be challenged' (Fiona Wilson The Times)