‘A really clever look both at Larkin, at Hull, at the 1950s’ – Michael Arditti on BBC Radio 4
‘Jonathan Tulloch gets the claustrophobia, and grey crippling littleness, in the physicalities of 1950s Britain and the grouchy, misanthropic mindset, with exactness and relish.’ – Ruth Padel
‘A metafictional tale set in the world of Philip Larkin’s poems, which takes its lead from that masterpiece of provincial unease “Mr Bleaney”’ – The Guardian
Step into Larkinland. Home of bicycle clips, trains, trolley buses, despair in rented rooms, and of course, the 'almost love affair’. Jonathan Tulloch deftly builds Philip Larkin's poems into a sustained landscape, fills it with Larkin's characters and just for good measure adds a version of Larkin himself – meet Arthur Merryweather: librarian, poet and would be great romantic.
Arriving in 1950s Hull, Arthur Merryweather finds himself lodging with the landlady from hell, and falling in love with fellow librarian Niamh O'Leary. But just as their love threatens to bloom, the mystery of Mr Bleaney, the enigmatic insurance salesman who rented his room before him, threatens to pull the poet into disaster and cast him into the criminal hinterland of 'fish town', that sublimely banal Larkinland 'beached on the mudflats at the end of the railway line, like a brick seal with a woodbine in its gob'.
Hilarious, hugely enjoyable and deeply moving, Larkinland is the most compelling love story, mystery and biographical novel you are likely to read.
A pitch-perfect realisation of Larkin's poetic world, the author also cooks up his own set of moving misadventures, which reveal the loneliness, commonplaces, fears, lusts and hope we all must face. Drawing on meetings with the women in Larkin's life, Larkinland casts startlingly fresh light on one of Hull’s greatest ever poets.