19-20 Tottenham Court Road, London - Look Forward to Seeing You!

Jayne Joso at the BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP September 29th 7pm

Jayne Joso at the BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP September 29th 7pm
Wood Green, London - FREE with Refreshments! Do Come!


MY FALLING DOWN HOUSE - the new novel by Jayne Joso - set in Tokyo - out on September 5th 2016, published by SEREN available for pre-order here...

This is Tokyo after the tsunami, after the financial crisis...

Recipient of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Award

"I had come here because I was drawn to the place; there was a feel for nature here, a sense of a slow and simple way of living. A forgotten way of living."

Upcoming Events:


Kimono Book Party - Jayne Joso reads My Falling Down House at Big Green Bookshop London; come in your kimono, as your inner ninja, your shapeshifting alter-ego, or just as you are! Free! Drinks too! 7pm Thurs 29.September.16

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff 7.30pm Thurs 06. October.16

Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London - 6pm Thurs 20.October.16 - Joso's Japan: Jayne Joso discusses Japan's wood and paper houses.

-more dates and details to be confirmed; & coming to Birkbeck

for book covers and author photos - right-hand side, scroll down

Jayne Joso by Joerg Rainer Noennig

Jayne Joso by Joerg Rainer Noennig

Jayne Joso photographed by Sasha Damjanovski

Jayne Joso photographed by Sasha Damjanovski
...for more images, scroll down on the right

Joso News...

ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND award Jayne Joso funding for time to write her 4th novel: From Seven to the Sea.

My Falling Down House - out Sept 5th 2016 - order now...

Set in the near future in Tokyo, after losing his job and his home, a young Japanese guy takes up residence in an abandoned house on the outskirts of the city. Inside the house he attempts to hold on to his sanity by setting himself projects to fix what he can and by constructing things out of the boxes he finds. With only a cat and a cello for company, the outside world suspended, his ability to distinguish between real and imagined events begins to disintegrate, and the arrival of the shapeshifter soon fills him with dread and suspicion.

My Falling Down House - cover features the painting ZEN GARDEN by British artist Carl Randall - view his work here...

Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Library, New York, (2013) and the Brooklyn Museum Library (2014) have each acquired Jayne Joso's poem Desire for their permanent collections - this work was written in response to stills by the photographer and filmmaker Omar Gamez. Desire forms part of the archive of New York based publisher Abe's Penny who originally commissioned the work.

Perfect Architect featured in full page discussion in ICON magazine (issue 099) - words by Agata Pyzik read in full here.

Perfect Architect in ARCHITECTURE TODAY magazine.

Jayne Joso awarded The Coracle Ireland International Writer’s Residency 2012 - A Sense of Place - based in Wexford, Ireland; part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Soothing Music for Stray Cats - now heavily cited in Green’s Dictionary of Slang.

German academic publishes essay on Soothing Music for Stray Cats ...

Purple Beach - short story by Jayne Joso at 3:AM Magazine read in full here.

Tokyo Spaces – new short story by Jayne Joso commissioned for 100th Anniversary edition of NWR – read excerpt here...

To the Lighthouse - short story by Jayne Joso available in print NWR magazine Autumn 2012 issue.

The dispossessed - Jayne Joso talks about writing Soothing Music for Stray Cats in 3:AM Magazine...

BBC Radio London 94.9 Jayne Joso on The Late Show with Joanne Good talking about her London based novel: Soothing Music for Stray Cats - link currently unavailable

Jayne Joso interview with Kerry Ryan for 3:AM MAGAZINE

Dazed & Confused magazine namecheck Jayne Joso and photographer Omar Gamez (The Money Issue)

Buzz Magazine (April 2011) features Soothing Music for Stray Cats & Perfect Architect

BBC6 Music Cerys featured: Soothing Music for Stray Cats as must buy for Christmas !

Jayne Joso's poetry published by American micro-magazine Abe's Penny - features on The New Yorker site...

Soothing Music for Stray Cats - shortlisted for People's BookJayne Joso honoured for her contribution to the Literature of Wales.

- interviews; reviews; & events history further down...

Jayne Joso is on Twitter @JayneJoso, but not on facebook


Reviews for Perfect Architect:
-Times Literary Supplement - Keith Miller: “Full of originality... Joso applies an otherworldly curiosity to a basic but universal question: what is it to live somewhere?”

-Publishers Weekly, New York - "Joso maintains a fine balance between the intellectual and the emotional"

-ICON Magazine - Agata Pyzik: "echoes of a Thomas Mann-style Kunstlerroman - charting an apprentice's growth to maturity... an illuminating read"

Reviews for Soothing Music for Stray Cats:

-Times Literary Supplement - Ian Thomson: "may emerge as one of the great, eccentric London novels"

-Planet Magazine - "reminiscent of Holden Caulfield's voice in J.D.Salinger's Catcher in the Rye"

Events History - Selected

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Interview – Jayne Joso talks about Perfect Architect

Interview from 2011
Alcemi: Why is architecture such a passion for you and how did you set out to convey this in the novel?
Jayne Joso: I think it's the idea of the house really, and what it takes to feel at home. For most people the setting they live in is quite simply, and quite rightly, the most important place. The majority of people spend much of their lives living in a place that isn't ideal, or else, is far from ideal, but even if we accept that ideals are often out of reach, the fact remains that the each of us has certain requirements of a place before we can call it home. What any of us needs varies according to all sorts of things from location to weather conditions as well as to the more indulgent and subjective considerations. The desire to feel comfortable, at ease and at home, is something I think I have always been curious about. I love asking: what does it mean to find the right place? What makes one building your ideal dwelling and another just a house? 
We moved around a lot when I was little, so I was used to spending time figuring out how best to organise my things, sometimes in a huge room, sometimes in a small one; wondering whether to sleep by the window or by the wall... It's what we all do, and discovering the best use of the space you're in and how best to accommodate yourself and whoever else you live with is really quite an adventure. Above and beyond that, I suppose I draw a lot on my experiences living variously in Kenya, China and Japan – and the sheer excitement of seeing very different kinds of architecture close up, and different ways of living, of viewing space and how to inhabit it – all of these experiences in various ways have fed my passion for architecture. 

Later on in Japan and then back in the UK my journalism and non-fiction pursuits led eventually to ghost writing on architecture in Japan, in Germany and the UK; and to keeping notebooks on my travels, jotting down observations about the ways different cultures live, what people seem to benefit from in order to achieve some kind of psychological or spiritual ease in the way they live, and what makes good sense in terms of physical comfort and managing the available space, light and temperature conditions. 
So what I set out to do in the novel was to work alongside a character who doesn't seem to know what might suit them best, and allow them to explore their sense of self in order to figure out how to determine what they need and how to work towards this place that might be called home. In order to make it exciting, and partly because of my own fascination for contemporary architecture, I decided to set it in the world of the star architect. Why not? It was a crazy amount of work for me, lectures, interviews, study, but I loved every minute of it. At one stage I even gate-crashed a very elite party in order to meet Daniel Libeskind. But I have to say, it was worth it. And eventually, star architects, a competition, exciting new building materials and the fantasy of the perfect dwelling all seemed like good and wholesome ingredients. 

A: Why did you decide to include letters in your novel?

JJ: Letters! Don't you just love getting real mail? With all the social networking, web mail shenanigans, doesn't a handwritten letter feel like the most precious thing to receive? For me it does, and having lived such a nomadic existence myself I am fortunate in having a few wonderful friends who still keep up the 'real mail' end of things. I think that letter writing is a great skill, and one we don't want to lose. In Japan letter writing is still highly regarded as a talent (though I imagine its popularity has waned as much as it has everywhere), and putting together a considerate and balanced piece of writing is quite an art.
In terms of the novel, I realised that 'the letter' would enable the characters to speak in a more formal and possibly more elegant tone at times, and in a form of address that wouldn't work at all in straightforward dialogue. I knew there was a lot I could do with this – no small part being that it can vary levels of intimacy between characters and between characters and the reader. The letters could also happily facilitate how some characters get to know one another and could accommodate my desire for them to meet or delay them meeting. And best not forget that the art of writing also has its romantic implications... I will say no more....

A: I have heard that architects tend to be immensely egotistical. How does your novel explore this area?

JJ: Ah yes, I've heard that too [laughing] – and the idea of the big ego is wonderful terrain for an author! I suppose I visit this in several ways, most obviously perhaps in the character of Alessandro, who despite his brilliance and sophistication, displays a truly dismissive arrogance at times, often operating in terms of stereotypes, particularly of women, and never being entirely accurate about where anyone comes from. 
But such ego, while it is easy to see the downside, is also a fabulous area in terms of exploring the personalities in society that are sometimes the most passionate and oftentimes the most dedicated to their work. So I think the novel, alongside its dealings with the personal and private landscapes of the architects' lives and how their self-obsession impacts on those closest to them, also delves into their passions, inspirations, and their drive with regard to their own projects, personal philosophies and how these affect their work. I guess what's common to each of the architects is an unflinching desire to design well, and so Perfect Architect is largely about artistic obsession, what motivates the architects, how they deal with things that get in the way, and who they need alongside them in order to have these ambitious projects realised. So you get to see big egos with big desires and ambitions taking on the 'little house'. 

A: How does Tom the postman's story fit into the scheme of things?

JJ: Tom's own story is a counterpoint to the exotic and often extraordinary lives of the architects in the novel. Tom and his family hopefully offer up a contrasting social and economic perspective and a different dynamic. Tom and Cara's relationship, coupled with their individual acts of mischief, also add in a measure of humour – though I hope some of the architects themselves will earn a few warm chuckles of their own. It's hard to guess at – but if a few smiles are raised that will be a great.
In terms of how Tom's story fits in, it is woven into, or at least, laid gently under the main thrust of the novel which is Gaia Ore's decisions as to how she will map out her life following the death of her star architect husband. 
The reason for making Tom a postman (a raised-in-the-US postman) is in no small part a homage to the figure of the postman in the modern American novel, and I believe both William Faulkner and Charles Bukowski as well as being great writers were actually mailmen themselves along the way. Hurrah to the delivery folk of the world, to parcels and real mail, for where would be without them?

A: Tell me about the novel's varied settings

JJ: People are so mobile these days, and I wanted to reflect that, so you have a whole mix of nationalities – people born in one place, studying in another and then often continuing to move about from place to place, from country to country for work, love, inspiration, for safety. I find that all fascinating, and it's always interesting to see how different places and cultures influence one another; and since the novel is centred around a creative process, it was ideal to draw on a cast of international characters and settings. Why not? Let's take it to Spain, Italy, the US... and be influenced by the Far East or the 'near to home'.... 

A: Latest film?

JJ: I've just seen Buster Keaton in The Cameraman –possibly the funniest film I've ever seen, genius!
A: Three items on your Ipod?

JJ: I don’t have an Ipod, but if I did... maybe Gogol Bordello's Super Taranta; Aretha Franklin; and an album called Pomegranates, recommended by a good friend; it's a fab collection of Persian pop, funk and folk from the 60s and 70s.

A: Three famous people who impress you (contemporary or historical)

JJ: Zaha Hadid, George Eliot, Edith Piaf...

A: Best place to work when things get tough

JJ: Does anyone work when things get tough? Better batten down the hatches until things ease up.

A: Current bedtime read –

JJ: Kafka

Interview – Jayne Joso talks about Soothing Music for Stray Cats

Interview from 2009

Alcemi: What was one of the biggest challenges in writing ‘Soothing Music for Stray Cats’?

Joso: Writing about London. Writing about a more remote, less-travelled place would still pose problems, but I think they would different. Writing about a city, which, whether you live there or not, everyone feels they know, poses huge challenges, and I struggled quite a lot. I was concerned that the London in the novel might feel too distant, too much ‘at odds’ with the readers’ own take on the place. But then someone suggested I read Jonathon Raban’s ‘Soft City’, and that helped enormously. Raban’s book reminded me of something Virginia Woolf also grappled with, and that’s the idea of there being versions of a place, in my case a city, and how places form themselves, or are seen in a writer’s mind, and there is always some degree of separation between that territory and the real thing. I think Woolf calls these places ‘phantom cities’, and yes, they have to be authentic, believable, but only in terms of the fiction; so you’re not writing a definitive London, or an ‘everyman’s London’, you’re writing ‘a version’. It has to be convincing and accurate, of course, but once I realised I was writing the narrator’s London, it felt like a major breakthrough. So what you get in the novel is ‘Mark’s London’, and hopefully it’s a place people will recognise and relate to.

A: Do you particularly enjoy writing about cities?
J: Well, there are certain things that might be true of all cities, or the experience of all cities, the excitement they offer, the buzz and sense of opportunity, and then there are the darker aspects, the fear factors if you like, the pressures to keep going at top speed, to ‘keep up’, and the greater potential for loneliness. But to answer your question, I’m interested in all of it really, a city’s dark and sunnier side, and I loved writing about London and landmark places like, Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge and The Thames, that felt great.

A: What do you think are some of the book’s other main features and themes?
J: Grief and survival, that sense of getting through each day, taking it slowly…easy… or trying to; kindness; risk taking, especially encounters with strangers… let’s face it, they can often go badly! Look at Ian McEwan’s, ‘The Comfort of Strangers’!—I love that; and other beautiful stuff, like the effects of good music, and good literature.

A: Speaking of good literature, who are some of the writers you admire?
J:  Thomas Pynchon, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, John Steinbeck, Kobo Abe, Natsume Soseki...

A: The novel has a very contemporary feel about it, almost as though it can see the recession coming, what do you make of that?
J: Well, it takes a look at the way some of us have been living the last few years, that’s for sure, the consumerism and acquisitiveness and how that relates to status; it was all a bit empty wasn’t it? Maybe it’s a bit much to say that it sees the recession coming, but yeah, perhaps it hints at it.

A: It says on your website that you think of Japan as your second home, how did that come about?
J:  I lived in Japan for quite a long time and made some lifelong friendships. I also enjoy the traditional culture there and a sense of calmness I can’t easily find anywhere else.

A: Going back to the question of cities, do you think you’ll write more fiction with a strong sense of place?
J: I hope so. The idea of finding the right space/place, somewhere a person can feel at home or at ease is really what interests me, and I’m writing something new with that in mind.


to contact the author email via the mellowcats team: themellowcats@yahoo.com

Twitter: @JayneJoso

re: facebook requests - Jayne Joso is not on facebook