Terry Pratchett (1948 – present)
Key words - English, fantasy, humour, satire
Who? – Pratchett is the second most-read writer in the UK (J.K. Rowling is currently in first place) and the country’s best-selling author of the 1990s. He was knighted in 2009 and sponsors an award for unpublished science fiction writers, the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award (“anywhere but here, anywhen but now”). The prize is a contract with Pratchett’s publishers, Transworld. In 2007, Pratchett announced that he is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and even tough he has trouble reading because of his condition, he still writes by either dictating to his assistant or through the use of speech-recognition software. He has also presented two documentaries, Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer’s (2009) and Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die (2011).
What? – Pratchett’s magnum opus is Discworld, a series of fantasy novels currently existing of forty volumes. In these works, Pratchett plays with clichés of the fantasy genre (including subgenres like fairy tales, vampire stories, and so on) and takes a satirical look at real-world developments in science and pop culture and issues like religion and politics. The books can be read independently (more or less), but do tie in together in coherent subseries (with their own chronology, characters, and story arcs) that form the complete Discworld. The popularity of these books can hardly be overestimated: Pratchett has sold over 80 million copies worldwide and when the latest installment, Snuff, came out in 2011, it sold 55,000 copies in the first three days.
Where do I start? – Opinions are divided on this one, but it is generally agreed that it’s better to start with the first book of one of the subseries instead of following the chronological order (though that is also possible). For example, my introduction to the Discworld was Mort, the first book of Death’s story. This reading guide is a great overview of how the series is structured.
Best known work? – The entire Discworld oeuvre, really, but Pratchett’s collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, has a dedicated following as well.
You might also enjoy - P.G. Wodehouse, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien
Further Reading –
Book Review: Mort (1987) by Terry Pratchett
Book Review: Reaper Man (1991) by Terry Pratchett
Book Review: Soul Music (1994) by Terry Pratchett
Book Review: Hogfather (1997) by Terry Pratchett
Book Review: Pyramids (1989) by Terry PratchettBook Review: Small Gods (1992) by Terry Pratchett