The practice of metafiction should fit no British novelist working today better than Nicholas Royle. Or at least one of them. First Novel is not written by Nicholas Royle, professor of English at Sussex University and author of Quilt (though he snags acknowledgement), but by the Nicholas Royle who has six previous novels to his name, edited Alison Moore’s Booker-shortlisted The Lighthouse and was laureate of this parish’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
Royle resembles the narrator of much of this book, Paul Kinder, in certain aspects: both are from the northwest and teach creative writing at a university in Manchester. Kinder, however, has published only one novel (not, it transpires, under this name). He claims to be at work on a second,