ILX 10: Nick Bradley

Meet Nick Bradley, a rising star of UK writing.

Nick Bradley is the author of two novels: The Cat and The City (2020) and Four Seasons in Japan (2023). He lived and worked in Japan for many years as a translator before returning to the UK to attend the Creative Writing MA at UEA. He holds a PhD focussing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature. He currently teaches on the Creative Writing master’s programme at the University of Cambridge, and the MA in Creative Writing at UEA.

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ILX 10: Rising Stars of UK Writing

The ILX10 is NCW’s selection of ten exciting, dynamic, and thought-provoking early-career writers based in the UK whose work has the powerful potential to speak to and engage with global literary audiences. It forms part of a three-year programme called the International Literature Exchange.

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‘I wolfed down these interlocking stories of cats, Tokyo, loneliness and redemption. Congratulations to Nick Bradley on this vibrant and accomplished debut.’ ― David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

‘Nick Bradley’s ingenious choreography of a constantly moving city, is touching, surprising and sometimes heartbreaking.’ ― Guardian

‘The key pleasure of reading this book is its sprightly vigour – cool but not hipsterish, ambitious but not pretentious – that evokes a similar liveliness in the reader. It makes you feel young again.’ ― John Self, The Times

‘In a very impressive, finely observed debut, Nick Bradley masterfully weaves together seemingly disparate threads to conjure up a vivid tapestry of Tokyo; its glory, its shame, its characters, and a calico cat.’ ― David Peace, author of the Tokyo trilogy

‘Transportive, mesmerising and beautiful, there is such a poignancy and tenderness to the story . . . written with lyrical prose that is emotive and warm. Every book worm would love this.’ ― Glamour

‘This novel is like the waves of the Seto Inland Sea. Waves that calmly roll in and out, permeating the reader’s heart and mind profoundly, and before you know it there’s a rich high tide.’ ― Kyoko Nakajima, author of Things Remembered and Things Forgotten

Writers I admire

Iain Banks, Leo Tolstoy, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

How has living abroad shaped you as a writer?

I went to watch Wim Wenders’ new film Perfect Days earlier this week. The film is set in Tokyo, about a man who cleans toilets. I connected with the main character a lot. Writing a book is a lot like cleaning a toilet. It’s not. I’m joking, obviously. Cleaning toilets is hard work. Writing is… What is writing? It’s just days, months, years of feeling lost.

But why did I identify with the main character in the film? Maybe it was because living in Japan taught me important life lessons. Hirayama the toilet cleaner takes pride in his work. He gets up each day and derives joy from the smallest moments. That’s what living in Japan taught me – to take my work seriously, and derive pleasure from the mundane. To not focus on success, or an end result, but the pure joy found in the simple act of creating. Each day, I get up, and I do a bit of writing, and those small bits add up to something larger than myself.

Perhaps I’d be a different kind of writer if I’d lived in Russia, Colombia, or Kenya. But I like to tell myself that wherever I’d lived, I’d still be a writer.

The International Literature Exchange is a programme from National Centre for Writing, supported by the British Council and Arts Council England.

 

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