Jenny Diski was born in London in 1947. She was educated at University College, London, and worked as a teacher during the 1970s and early 1980s. She is a regular contributor to The Observer and the London Review of Books.
Her first novel, Nothing Natural, the story of a single parent locked in an abusive relationship, was published in 1986 (reissued 2003). Subsequent novels include Rainforest (1987), in which a female anthropologist is shocked by her discoveries about human nature; Then Again (1990), a complex narrative exploring the life of a persecuted Jewish girl living in fourteenth-century Poland; Happily Ever After (1991), the story of the relationship between an eccentric old woman and her landlord, a middle-aged alcoholic; and The Dream Mistress (1996), set in contemporary London, about three women whose stories are loosely connected: Mimi, Leah - the mother who abandoned her -and Bella, a tramp who Mimi saves at the beginning of the novel. The Vanishing Princess (1995) is a collection of short stories.
She published a volume of autobiography, Skating to Antarctica, in 1997, which was shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Non-Fiction, and a book of essays, Don’t, in 1998. Jenny Diski is also the author of two television plays, A Fair and Easy Passage, written for Channel 4 television, and The Ultimate Object of Desire.
Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking around America with Interruptions (2002), a travelogue narrating a railway journey around the United States, is the winner of the 2003 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. A View from the Bed (2003) is a compendium of essays and literary reviews. Her novel, Only Human: A Comedy (2000), reworks the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah told in Genesis, chapters 11 to 22, and After These Things (2004) continues the story, centring on the relationship between Abraham’s son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob. Her non-fiction book, On Trying to Keep Still, was published in 2006.
Jenny Diski lives in Cambridge. Her latest book is The Sixties (2009)
Sunday 1 November 2009, 5.30pm Student Union
Novel Pursuits: creative writing and the democratisation of literature?
"Without ideas forged in the clash of opposition - there is no way forward. The Battle of Ideas is a must do event."
Lynne Featherstone MP, Liberal Democrats