Renowned for his London chronicles, writer Iain Sinclair now turns his incisive attention to Peru, his own family history and a remarkable tale of colonial exploration, compelling Amazonian encounters and the legacy of a complex inheritance whose relevance continues to this day.
A writer and filmmaker, Iain Sinclair’s early work was mostly poetry, much of it published by his own small press, Albion Village Press. He was (and remains) closely connected with the British avant garde poetry scene of the 1960s and 1970s – authors such as Edward Dorn, J. H. Prynne, Douglas Oliver, Peter Ackroyd and Brian Catling are often quoted in his work and even turn up in fictionalized form as characters; later on, taking over from John Muckle, Sinclair edited the Paladin Poetry Series and, in 1996, the Picador anthology Conductors of Chaos.
His early books Lud Heat (1975) and Suicide Bridge (1979) were a mixture of essay, fiction and poetry; they were followed by White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings (1987), a novel juxtaposing the tale of a disreputable band of bookdealers on the hunt for a priceless copy of Arthur Conan Doyle'sA Study in Scarlet and the Jack the Ripper murders (here attributed to the physician William Gull).
Sinclair was for some time perhaps best known for the novel Downriver (1991), which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prizeand the 1992 Encore Award. It envisages the UK under the rule of the Widow, a grotesque version of Margaret Thatcheras viewed by her harshest critics, who supposedly establishes a one party state in a fifth term. Radon Daughters formed the third part of a trilogy with White Chappell, Scarlet TracingsandDownriver.
The volume of essays Lights Out for the Territory gained Sinclair a wider readership by treating the material of his novels in non-fiction form. His essay Sorry Meniscus (1999) ridicules the Millennium Dome. In 1997, he collaborated with Chris Petit, sculptor Steve Dilworth and others to make The Falconer, a 56-minute semi-fictional "documentary" film set in London and the Outer Hebrides about the British underground filmmaker Peter Whitehead. It also features Stewart Home, Kathy AckerandHoward Marks. Sinclair is renowned for using London and its environs as a central theme and his depictions of London (in fiction and non-fiction) have become associated with the term psychogeography. Simply defined, this means that the influence of place on the emotions is explored and made explicit.