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The Book of Joys is a collection of six stories by John Saul, one of which, ‘Art: a biography’, is published for the first time. It also features images by the artist Albert Irvin (1922– 2015). The book is part of a series of ‘collaborations’ between writers and artists. Interpolated Stories (David Rose and Leah Leaf) and Loners (Adrian Slatcher and Steven Heaton) have already been published. Forthcoming books include collaborations between Ailsa Cox and Patricia Farrell, Mike Fox and Nicholas Royle, and David Bevan and Maya Sharp.

Playful with fictional forms and ideas, these six pieces find joy in its many guises – found, mislaid, brushed against and re-encountered. ‘Alice Balancing’ gleefully launches into one of the creative processes in writing fiction, only for the joy of love to falter in ‘Chelsea’, and that of life itself to struggle in ‘Saltaire’. Delight returns in the form of humour in ‘Make that cake’, before attention to the creative process surfaces again in ‘Madrid’. Meanwhile enjoyment of art itself, displayed by the exuberance of Albert Irvin and highlighted in ‘Art: a biography’, is a thread running through the book.

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John Saul grew up in Liverpool. Widely published, his short fiction has been brought together in three collections (Salt Publishing). Work of his has appeared in Best British Short Stories 2023 and Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction. Recently he read for

The Stinging Fly at the International Literature Festival Dublin. He is a member of the European Literature Network.

Albert Irvin OBE RA was born in 1922 in London, where he continued to live and work throughout his life. He was represented from the 1970s by Gimpel Fils who held regular solo exhibitions of his work. His paintings and prints are held in many public collections throughout the UK and the world, including Tate, Royal Academy and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He continued painting and printmaking until his death in 2015, aged 92.

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