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Sarah Waters discusses ingenious tale of fraud, insanity and secrets

Friday 10 November 2017

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Sarah Waters will visit St Andrews to discuss her historical crime novel, Fingersmith, on Wednesday 15 November 2017 at 5.30pm in the Medical and Biological Sciences Building lecture theatre, as part of a collaborative venture with The Booker Prize Foundation.

Copies of her novel, described as “a triumph of narrative magic” (Times Literary Review) were gifted to every entrant undergraduate student joining the University this year as part of an ongoing scheme to encourage intellectual debate; and offer people across the St Andrews community an opportunity to be part of a shared conversation, engaging with the very best contemporary literary fiction.

Fingersmith is the third slice of lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, The Night Watch and, most recently, The Little Stranger. All of her books have attracted prizes: she won a Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and was twice shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Fingersmith and The Night Watch were both shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes, and Fingersmith won the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger Award for Historical Crime Fiction and the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

Fingersmith is a suspense novel awash with gloomy Dickensian motifs, including: pickpockets; orphans; grim prisons; lunatic asylums; “laughing villains” and “stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad”. It provides a damning critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy, a gripping melodrama and a love story.

A BBC adaptation was broadcast in 2005, while the South Korean director Park Chan-wook created a film adaptation titled, The Handmaiden (Korean title Agassi), set in 1930s colonial Korea, which was released at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Sarah Waters’ visit is the ninth in an annual initiative designed to offer new students a common topic for discussion.

Launched in 2009, the St Andrews Man Booker Prize Project involves entrant undergraduate students being sent a copy of a Man Booker Prize shortlisted book, distributed by Wardens and their teams through Halls of Residence. It is hoped that the project will offer all our new students a stimulating common experience as they join the St Andrews community.

All are welcome to attend the event.


For background visit the Sarah Waters website.

The talk will be held in the lecture theatre in the Medical and Biological Sciences Building of the University of St Andrews at the North Haugh, at 5.30pm on Wednesday 15 November.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 46 2530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.