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Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield was born in London in 1990. She is a fiction writer and occasional playwright with a Masters in Victorian Art and Literature from Royal Holloway University. She was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2019. She was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize 2017, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Award 2018, and won the White Review short story prize 2018. Her first book, salt slow, is a collection of short stories about bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of its characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession and love. She won the Pushcart Prize in 2020.


Julia Armfield lives and works in London.

Books in order of publication:

Salt Slow (2019)


Praise for Salt Slow:

‘Following on from her almost unfathomably good collection of short stories salt slow (2019), Julia Armfield’s Our Wives Under The Sea is a lesbian Gothic novel that will devastate you.’ DAZED

‘What makes this collection so exciting? It’s the way the salty, unsentimental underpinning of mythology combines itself with clinical contemporary observation… It’s the way that although Armfield is full of tenderness for her characters, she never apologises on their behalf; she’s fantastical, but never less than realistic. It’s the satisfying lean towards the macabre and the metamorphic, balanced by wickedly clever prose and a sense of humour that seems to loom up like a character in itself, having been lying in wait in a corner all along. It’s the way that every paragraph balances itself perfectly between the visceral and the cool.’ The Guardian 

‘Armfield’s prose has a stupefied ease. It glides along so stylishly, incurious about the blood intermittently spilling across its palms…Armfield’s skill is clear, by reflection, in her dialogue: lively and tense, its plausibility plays eerily against the narration either side.’ The Telegraph

‘Armfield’s language is crisp and elegant, and the icy poise of her prose evokes a tingling dread.’ Literary Review

‘Unsettling, uncanny, and utterly delightful debut.’ Publisher’s Weekly

‘Dazzling…Each piece is filled with magic, insight, and a rare level of creativity that mark Armfield as a fresh new voice of magical realism.’ Kirkus

‘Julia Armfield’s new collection salt slow is innovative and often vengeful, reaching forward into a landscape that is futuristic yet almost close enough to touch.’ New Statesman

‘Salt Slow is exemplary. A distinct new gothic, melancholy, powerful and poised.’ China Miéville, three time winner of the Arthur C. Clarke award for Science Fiction 

‘Reading this collection is the only thing you need to do right now. Reading this collection is the only thing you ever need to do. Armfield is an enormous, gut-wrenching talent.’ Daisy Johnson, shortlisted for Booker prize 2018

 ‘Armfield’s collection is exemplary as she pushes the limits of reality into beautifully eerie and unsettling worlds’ Booklist

‘Writers should take risks and Julia Armfield does this fearlessly with stories that unnerve and delight in equal measure. There are echoes of Leonora Carrington and Carmen Maria Machado, but Armfield’s distinct voice is her own: singular, visceral and eerie. A hugely impressive first collection.’ Sinéad Gleeson author of Constellations 

‘Visceral, fierce and beautifully unsettling, Armfield’s writing has an astonishing power. This collection haunted me with its brilliance.’ Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory

“These are brilliantly addictive, barbed, illusive stories. Armfield creates a cleverly unsettling, iridescent world that we are all the better for entering.” Irenosen Okojie author of Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish

 ‘Unafraid to venture beyond realism’s limits, Julia Armfield refashions our contemporary existence as an eerie, care-worn dreamworld, taking our quotidian anxieties and desires and handing them back to us empathetically remade. ‘The Great Awake’ is an oneiric delight, and Armfield is a significant, exciting talent.’ Sam Byers, author of Perfidious Albion

‘Julia Armfield has created a portrait of urban ennui that unfolds through an impressively sustained conceit. It’s a bold feat of the imagination which, despite being so elaborate, never feels contrived. Her work has a timelessness to it, and a generosity of emotion that’s brave and affecting. There’s an intensity of voice driving [these stories], as well as a strong visceral quality that adds to the effect.’  Chloe Aridjis, author of Book of Clouds

‘Julia Armfield’s debut is wild and wonderful, full of mythical transformations that take place in the most ordinary of contemporary settings.’ Irish Daily Mail 

‘The stories in this collection look at women’s bodies and their experiences in society with an eerie, otherworldly lens – for instance, in them women become insects, men turn to stone, cities become insomniac and landscapes are always shifting. For fans of Carmen Maria Machado, Sophie Mackintosh and Megan Hunter.’ Elle Magazine

‘These exquisitely written stories are like the quietly surreal lovechild of Anne Michaels and Julio Cortazar. Both moving and poetic, salt slow introduces Julia Armfield as a writer to watch and greatly admire.’ Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti

‘Visceral, fierce and beautifully unsettling. Armfield’s writing has an astonishing power. This collection haunted me with its brilliance’ Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory 

 ‘Eerie, otherwordly…For fans of Carmen Maria Machado, Sophie Mackintosh and Megan Hunter’ Elle (UK)

‘Sometimes a collection of short stories comes along that keeps you up through the night, pulling you from one page to the next, Julia Armfield’s debut collection is just such a book’ SFX

‘Remember the name Julia Armfield as this will be the year that salt slow bubbles under then pops up everywhere on best-of lists and literary prizes…this short story collection expands on Armfield’s ability to meld the psychological with the physical. Read just one tale from this disturbing collection and you’ll find yourself clamped between the collection’s jaws. Because, visceral, perturbing and exhilarating, these stories are something really special.’  Stylist

 “Quiet, meticulously crafted collection that’s a sign of even greater writing to come.” Buzzfeed

‘A haunting and deliciously unsettling debut’ Attitude Magazine

 

Praise for Our Wives Under the Sea:

 

'Delicate and horrifying, Our Wives Under the Sea is a darkly brilliant novel that submerges the reader's imagination in the depths of the unknown.' Megan Hunter

 

'OUR WIVES UNDER THE SEA is a mesmerizing triumph. Julia Armfield has created a surprisingly seamless novel: it is a love story, a grief story, a question without end. It's a tale of the sea that swallows you whole and breaks your heart in the very best way. It is tender and funny. It is shockingly bold. Without a doubt, it is one of the best books I've ever read. It's not only art, it's a perfect miracle. We are lucky for it.' Kristen Arnett 

 

'Reading this book is like diving into the deepest depths of the ocean and finding beautiful and disturbing wonders.' Kirsty Logan

'Beautiful, otherworldly, like floating through water with your eyes open.' Daisy Johnson

'Tender, strange, lucid, and so assured – comparisons feel insubstantial, but if you love sci fi or love stories or books that defy labels or chew-your-arm-off good writing, this is for you.' Kiran Millwood Hargrave

'Julia Armfield is one of my favourite writers, 'Our Wives Under the Sea' moves fluidly between horror story and love story, the gorgeous andthe grotesque. A contemporary gothic fairy tale, sublime in its creepiness' Florence Welch

'Our Wives is spooky and romantic: a gorgeous, lyrical novel that gets under your skin. Armfield leads you softly through a story that feels epic and intimate at the same time.' Sarvat Hasin 

'A wonderful novel, deeply romantic and fabulously strange. I loved this book.' Sarah Waters

'A strange, unnerving novel that wrongfoots you at every turn and invites you to think again about loss, absence, and transformation, Our Wives Under The Sea also returns wholly original answers to that great question, 'Where did we come from, where are we going?' It is a beautiful, lyrically written elegy.' Neel Mukherjee

'Frightening, otherworldly, but above all gripping. Julia Armfield's great triumph here is to transform a latent, abstract fear of the unknown into a pulsing, prickling tension — & to keep that tension taut for more than 200 pages.’ The Sunday Times

'Our Wives Under The Sea is a hypnotic and affecting love story - an exploration of intimacy and its opposites, as well as of incomprehension, absence and unfathomable uncertainty.' The Literary Review

'Sharp, atmospheric, dryly funny, sad, distinctive . . . There is an almost spiritual endlessness to its quest. Like all good novels, it goes deep and then deeper again.' Irish Times

'Armfield anchors the shudder-producing tale in authentic marine science and a deep understanding of human nature. This is mesmerizing." Publisher's Weekly, Starred review 

Julia Armfield Titles