Category: Uncategorized

  • Why Cavafy Matters

    I first came across Cavafy in his own city of Alexandria. I had stumbled in after a long desert trip. I was in a bad way. I’d almost lost my mind, and hoped to find it there. Instead I found an ant-nibbled copy of Cavafy’s poems in a bookshop which also sold stuffed crocodiles. I…

  • Cry of the Wild

    Cry of the Wild is now out. It’s my attempt to show what it feels like for eight species – orca, fox, otter, rabbit, gannet, eel, mayfly and human (yes, human) to live alongside us. Writing it has been a thrilling and disturbing journey. Many thanks to my brilliant editor at Transworld, Alex Christofi, and to…

  • ‘A Little Brown Sea’ longlisted for the Runciman Award

    Delighted that my very strange novel about Greece, Greekness, and the long reach of Poseidon has been long-listed for the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award. Some kind things people have said about it: Brilliantly original-  a strange and elegant triumph. Evie Wyld Because the story of a life is the story of the lives that intersect…

  • ‘Being a Human’ one of The Atlantic’s books of the year

    The citation reads (very kindly, from James Parker – thank you so much): ‘Where to start with Charles Foster? How about with a big fat quote from Being a Human? “What keeps brains effective and their owners alive in times of trouble is promiscuous intellectual cross-fertilisation between different domains of one’s own brain, and between…

  • Being a Human

    Being a Human: Adventures in 40,000 years of consciousness is now out, published by Profile in the UK and Metropolitan in the US. It tries to answer the question ‘What sort of creature is a human?’, and it took me to some very strange places.

  • Wainwright Prize Shortlist

    Thrilled and honoured and humbled to announce that ‘The Screaming Sky’ has been shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2021.

  • The Screaming Sky

    The Screaming Sky, my account of my long-standing obsession with swifts, has been published by the splendid Little Toller. It’s magnificently illustrated by Jonathan Pomroy, who understands better than anyone on the planet how swifts move.

  • Why Father Brown is better than Sherlock Holmes

    [First published on the University of Oxford Practical Ethics blog] Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate has issued proceedings, complaining that Enola Holmes, a recently released film about Sherlock Holmes’ sister, portrays the great detective as too emotional. Sherlock Holmes was famously suspicious of emotions. 1 ‘ [L]ove is an emotional thing’, he icily observed, ‘and whatever…

  • What’s the point of University (or any) education?

    I’m an academic at the University of Oxford. At the moment Oxford is full of nervous, be-gowned students doing their exams. They’re all concerned about getting a good degree. But why? I’m copying below a blog post of mine from a few years back, originally published on the University of Oxford Practical Ethics website. My…

  • Strange friends on the Dark Mountain?

    The Dark Mountain Manifesto has been formative for me. It seems churlish – indeed nearly patricidal – to criticise it. But I’ve lived with it now for long enough to see it more clearly than I did, and I am uneasy now about some of it. It is not Kingsnorth’s and Hine’s delight in apocalypse…