Join us for an evening in conversation with Jesse Loncraine to discuss his provocative debut novel.
“In the Filed packs a real punch. Jesse Loncraine leads you confidently through a dark and often desperate world. His writing is unsparing and unsentimental yet, at times, moves you close to tears.”
“The world of In the Field is dangerous, very very dangerous. It is Jesse Loncraine’s gift to take you there, scary as it is, but reassure you that love and humanity can survive. His characters, however bizarre their experiences, are all perfectly believable. The reader wants them all to survive and thrive. Hence the excitement to the very last page of this fully-achieved debut: a page turner par excellence.”
Sir Ian McKellen
To mark its publication in the UK this month, Jesse Loncraine will be reading excerpts of his novel In the Field and drawing on its themes of reportage vs. reality and the ethics of war journalism to stimulate discussion.
In the Field is a tense story of familial bonds and conflict journalism set in East Africa. The narrative kicks off as reporter Orin Perth disappears following the publication of his story on Christine Lokeka, whose son Paul was snatched by a militia. Orin’s mother Liz, a retired war reporter battling cancer, enlists the help of Christine in a perilous search for their children as Orin and Paul struggle for survival in parallel.
For this discussion, we will engage with In the Field‘s themes of abuse and addiction. We see in the novel how Liz and Orin both chase the thrill that comes with being enmeshed in a foreign upheaval, to the detriment of their family, their loved ones, and even themselves. In an illustrative analogy, Loncraine draws parallels between Orin’s drug addiction and the adrenaline rush of conflict reporting, and, in a similar way, Liz compares her cancer to her need to chase a story. The line between heroism and vanity is drawn thin so as to interrogate this question; we see both the positive social forces that such reportage unleashes in the region as well as the selfish and dissolute behaviour of the journalists. To what extent are Western reporters who try to capture the ‘authentic’ voices of people in the developing world merely self-serving?
Jesse Loncraine was born and grew up in London. He studied English Literature at Bristol, and later, Violence, Conflict and Development at SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), with an emphasis on the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia, and the prosecution of atrocity crimes. Since then he has worked on documentaries, written and taught about the International Criminal Court, been a landscape gardener in New York, and worked in a bowling alley bar. Throughout these jobs he has been writing fiction. Jesse has three short stories published in The White Review, and In the Field will be published by Blue Mark Books.