Kate Pullinger

Kate Pullinger's first book, the short-story collection Tiny Lies (1988), was followed by the novel When the Monster Dies (1989), in which a post-imperial, multicultural London crumbling under the weight of its two-millennium history becomes home to a squatter community from across the COMMONWEALTH.


Pullinger, Kate

 Kate Pullinger, novelist, anthologist, digital fiction writer (b at Cranbrook, BC 22 Dec 1961). Pullinger grew up on VANCOUVER ISLAND and studied literature and philosophy at MCGILL UNIVERSITY. She abandoned her degree to work and travel, settling in London, England permanently in 1982. Best known as author of the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD-winning The Mistress of Nothing (2009), Pullinger is an adventurous expatriate writer whose 6 novels address themes of migrant identity, the transformative city, the dysfunctional family, transgressive love, and cross-cultural encounters by 19th-century travellers.

Kate Pullinger's first book, the short-story collection Tiny Lies (1988), was followed by the novel When the Monster Dies (1989), in which a post-imperial, multicultural London crumbling under the weight of its two-millennium history becomes home to a squatter community from across the COMMONWEALTH. Experiences of tenuous belonging and dislocation appear also in later novels, including The Last Time I Saw Jane (1996). Set in London, BRITISH COLUMBIA, and Guyana over two centuries, Jane parallels a contemporary female Londoner's interracial relationships with those of Sir James DOUGLAS, Guyanese-born first governor of British Columbia, who married a half-CREE woman. The Mistress of Nothing similarly fictionalizes the travelling life of Sally Naldrett, maid to the Victorian writer Lady Lucie Duff Gordon. Sally's pregnancy by an Egyptian servant earns her mistress's wrath and unforgiving rejection; her moving first-person account of her desperate efforts to find happiness and home in politically unstable nineteenth-century Egypt raises complex issues of power, class, gender, race, religion and the uncertain boundaries of desire.

Dangerous, illicit passion also dominates Pullinger's obliquely vampire-themed and sexually charged novel Where Does Kissing End? (1992) as well as the explicitly gothic Weird Sister (1999), in which a charismatic and beautiful, but suspiciously witch-like, American wreaks havoc on a British village's leading family as apparent retribution for a centuries-old injustice. A fascination with mysterious disappearances and abrupt escapes, notable throughout Kate Pullinger's fiction, infuses A Little Stranger (2004), in which an unhappy young mother impulsively flees her husband and 3-year-old for Las Vegas's comforting soullessness and an uncomfortable reunion with her own mother, a chronic alcoholic who prefers homelessness on Vancouver's streets to middle-class domesticity and family.

Kate Pullinger has edited or co-edited 9 short-fiction anthologies. She collaboratively authored the novelization of Jane Campion's film The Piano (1994) and, more recently, several online digital fictions. She is a Reader in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, has served as writer-in-residence at several British prisons, and is married with 2 children.

Stylistically cool and wryly ironic in a manner reminiscent of Margaret ATWOOD, Kate Pullinger's disturbing and provocative novels explore the lives of Canadian and British women who cross geographical and metaphorical boundaries. She brings a cosmopolitan sensibility to an eclectic mix of late-20th- and 21st-century themes.