Author Archive

Chicken Unga Fever

It’s here! Chicken Unga Fever, a collection of the best of my ‘Health Matters’ columns, which have appeared fortnightly for the past five years in the New Statesman. Just in time for Christmas, too. How lovely.

Publication day!

Thrilled to mark the official publication day for my sixth novel You – the blurb on the cover starts: ‘A man boards a train, hoping to see the daughter he’s heard nothing from for seven years.’

Many thanks to my fantastic publishers, the mighty Salt Publishing, who have turned my words into a very fine book indeed. Here’s the final cover of the first edition:


Delighted to publish the cover for my sixth novel, You, which will be published by the mighty Salt on 15th April 2018


I’m delighted to announce that my sixth novel, You, will be published by the mighty Salt in April 2018. More details, including cover art work and a taster of the story, will appear here later in the year.

They think it’s all over …

Just when you think there will be no more reviews to come (actually, if I’m honest, months after I thought there’d be no more reviews to come), this little beauty appears in the New Statesman – ‘a fast-paced missing-person investigation that explores the complexities of sisterly strife on a vividly human scale.’

Hark the Herald!

It’s never too late for a review to appear, it would seem … this nice mention appeared in the Catholic Herald, no less!

Five star

The best corrective to a disappointing paucity of coverage in the ever-contracting mainstream books pages is to read reactions from real readers. The latest 5 star review on Amazon is such a cracker that I’m reproducing it here in full. Thank you, Mr A Skinner of London!

‘I am astonished that this highly intelligent and beautifully written book has not achieved a much higher profile, and critical acclaim. It has a great deal to say about life, love and relationships, but says it in a quiet, unshouty, reasonable way. I was also astonished that it was written by a man. This is essentially a story about two complex and intelligent women, and, to my masculine ear at least, sounds true in every word. I would be very interested to hear the female perspective of the writing and the characters.
I only discovered it by accident, lurking quietly in a pre-Christmas interview with book publishers, about which books they wished they had published in 2016. It deserves a very wide audience, and I have been recommending it to all my friends, who have any interest in quality literature.’

Hidden gem

Returning to print after a break of some nine years, it has been sobering how tough it is for a new literary novel to gain attention. Since I was last published, books pages in the press have shrunk markedly, and the sheer volume of titles appearing overwhelms the space available. It has been interesting and heartening, then, to find Sister Sebastian’s Library nosing its way into the light in a number of places. A surge in sales followed a profile of me in the British Medical Journal, published the same weekend that the Guardian included the book in a round-up of titles that might have received greater initial attention. Most pleasing of all, though, was Buckinghamshire libraries’ inclusion of Sister Sebastian’s Library as one of their ‘hidden gems’ of 2016.


The world of literature has a striking number of novelists who are also doctors. You can read my recently published Guardian article exploring the link between literature and medicine here.

First reviews

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking, waiting to see what reviews might come in. Today saw publication of the first review in the national press, the Daily Mail describing Sister Sebastian’s Library as a ‘gripping, evocative novel’, and praising its tackling ‘big ideas such as the complex relationship between faith and identity’. The reviewer wasn’t entirely on board with the ending, which, beyond a ‘tantalising suggestion of rebirth’, is left open – some people like their stories neatly wrapped up, but literary fiction is the place where art can most closely emulate real life, something the novel deliberates tries to do. You can read the full review here, just below the write up for Rachel Cusk’s new novel (which also sounds a cracker!)

Phil Whitaker

'Whitaker is so genuinely inventive' - Spectator