Alexander Baron is back in style! The first evening of this year's Stoke Newington Literary Festival included a wonderful session on the locality's most famous modern writer. Baron was brought up on Foulden Road, and borrowed from his childhood memories in his classic The Lowlife, as well as in With Hope, Farewell, and the most autobiographical of his fiction, The In-Between Time.
Yesterday evening more than seventy people crammed in to an evening meeting to celebrate Baron and his books. Not simply his novels of north London, but also his celebrated fiction giving an ordinary soldier's viewpoint of the fighting in Europe during the latter part of the Second World War.
Sean Longden - one of the speakers and a leading historian of the combatants' experience of war - said Baron's novels turned up more regularly than any others on veterans' book shelves. Baron's son, Nick, talked of a shy man, a pessimist, morose at times - but a hugely accomplished TV script writer as well as novelist. There's much more about Baron elsewhere on this site.
One of his war novels - the hugely affecting and compassionate There's No Home, set in Sicily during a lull in the conflict - has just been republished by Sort of Books. There are now five Baron novels back in print - the greatest number, surely, for many decades. And for Baron fans, of whom I am one, a real cause for celebration.
If you are an enthusiast for London novels, let me point towards the London Fictions site - where, among others, Baron's Islington novel Rosie Hogarth is discussed.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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