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School of English and Modern Languages
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483476
Headington Campus, Tonge Block, T415
James is the author of six novels with Jonathan Cape. The first, A White Merc With Fins (1996), was a Sunday Times bestseller, as was his second, Rancid Aluminium (1997). This was filmed, starring Joseph Fiennes, whilst Michael Sheen starred in the adaptation of his third novel Dead Long Enough (2000). His study of Kafka - Excavating Kafka - (“absolutely brilliant and utterly infuriating” Guardian, 2008) was the basis of a BBC documentary televised in November 2008. In 2018 his "The Shortest History of Germany" reached #2 in the Sunday Times bestsellers; in 2021 "The Shortest History of Emgland" made #4 in The Times bestsellers.
James is currently working as "Series Story Consultant" and on-screen talking head on the upcoming landmark 8-part BBCTV history of creativity in these islands, which will be broadcast in April 2022.
The West is in full retreat. The Anglo-Saxon powers, great and small, withdraw into fantasies of lost greatness. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver — and everyone looks to Berlin. But are the Germans really us, or them? This question has haunted Europe ever since Julius Caesar invented the Germani in 58 BC.
How Roman did Germania ever become? Did the Germans destroy the culture of Rome, or inherit it? When did they first drive east, and did they ever truly rule there? How did Germany become, for centuries, a power-vacuum at the heart of Europe? How was Prussia born? Did Bismarck unify Germany or conquer it? Where are the roots of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich? Why did it lose? By what miracle did a better Germany arise from the rubble? Is Germany now the last Western bastion of industrial prosperity and rational politics? Or are the EU and the Euro merely window-dressing for a new German hegemony?
This fresh, illuminating and concise new history makes sense of Europe’s most admired and feared country. It’s time for the real story of Germany.
Kafka's features, and that dreaded word, Kafkaesque, are known to millions who have never read serious literature. Generations of academics and critics have maintained the image of Franz Kafka as a tortured seer whose works defy interpretation. In Excavating Kafka James Hawes reveals the truth that lies beneath the image of a middle-European Nostradamus with a typographically irresistible name. The real Franz Kafka was no angst-ridden paranoid but a well-groomed young man-about-town who frequented brothels, had regular sex with a penniless-but-pretty girl and subscribed to upmarket pornography (published by the very man who published Kafka's first stories). Excavating Kafka debunks a number of key facets of the Kafka-Myth, including the idea that Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime; that he was stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to find time to write; that he was tormented by fear of sex; that he had a uniquely terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son's needs; that his literature is mysterious and opaque; that he constructs fantasy-worlds in which innocent everymen live in fear of mysterious and totalitarian powers-that-be. Written with the panache of a supremely gifted comic writer, Excavating Kafka is an engaging and involving reassessment of a major figure of literary modernism that will be welcomed and enjoyed by students of Kafka and by general readers alike.