Eley Williams -- portrait Sophie-Davidson--scaled.jpeg

Eley Williams

The Liar's Dictionary

Tuesday 8 March, 7pm

Online: £Pay What You Can

(Donations to Lit Fest welcome)


'... a singular, hilarious, word-drunk novel, which I suspect will be seen in the future as a classic comic novel' - David Hayden, Irish Times

Described by The New York Times as 'a celebration of the people who compile dictionaries, even if they’re driven out of their minds in the process', The Liar's Dictionary explores complex and shifting relationships between people and the language that they use.


The novel alternates between two timelines: in the final year of the 19th century, Peter Winceworth is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection with his colleagues compels him to assert some artistic freedom, and this errant lexicographer begins including unauthorized, fictitious entries. In the present day, intern Mallory starts to uncover these fake words as well as their creator’s motivations, hopes and desires. Encompassing themes of self-definition, recklessness, trust, wordplay and identity,


In this event we will discuss The Liar's Dictionary with the author, and learn more about the use and misuse of dictionaries in contemporary fiction.

Biographical Note
Eley WIlliams' collection of short stories Attrib. and Other Stories (Influx Press, 2017) was awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize 2018. With stories anthologised in The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story (Penguin Classics, 2018) and Liberating the Canon (Dostoevsky Wannabe, 2018), she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lectures at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her debut novel, The Liar's Dictionary, was published by Penguin in 2020 and won a Betty Trask Award.

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