The Empty Chair — Coming Aug 2021
A novel thirty-four years in the making from Roger Keen, which holds up a skewed mirror to personal and cultural history, gaming the relationship of truth and fiction.
Steve Penhaligon confronts his father symbolically and then for real, and his Empty Chair takes on a life of its own as the cameras roll. Set in the milieu of the British film and TV industry from the 1980s through to the 2000s, the novel blends the genres historiographic metafiction and autofiction.
It sets a personal story of psychotherapy and a troublesome father/son relationship against a carefully detailed cultural background, looking at the changes in media life, the productions, their methods and the technology involved as the Digital Age comes into being. Steve’s rise to success and eventually fame is dizzying…perhaps too dizzying, which raises complex questions.
Political change also features, as the reign of Margaret Thatcher peaks and gives way to that of John Major and eventually Tony Blair. As in Roger’s previous books – The Mad Artist and Literary Stalker – the layering of narratives plays an important part, with the act of storytelling taking centre stage.