Patrick Flanery

Professor Patrick Flanery

Chair of Creative Writing

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


I was born in California and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. After finishing my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television Production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, I worked as a freelance script reader for Sony Pictures Entertainment, and subsequently as a book scout for a production company and talent management agency in New York City.

In 2001, I moved to the U.K., where I completed my doctorate at the University of Oxford on the publishing and adaptation histories of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, and also began working on South African literature and film. From 2005 to 2009 I taught modern and contemporary literature and literary theory as an adjunct at the University of Sheffield, during which time I was also writing my first novel, ABSOLUTION (2012). I have since published three further novels, FALLEN LAND (2013), I AM NO ONE (2016), and NIGHT FOR DAY (2019). In 2019 I also published a hybrid creative-critical memoir, THE GINGER CHILD: ON FAMILY, LOSS AND ADOPTION.

Translations of my novels have appeared in a dozen languages. ABSOLUTION won the Spear’s/Laurent Perrier Best First Book Award in 2012, and was shortlisted for a number of other prizes, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize.

Other creative and critical work has been published in Zoetrope: All Story, Granta, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Daily Telegraph. I have appeared at literary festivals around the U.K., as well as in France, Italy, Norway, South Africa, and the U.S.A. My work has been supported by fellowships and residencies at MacDowell (USA), the Santa Maddalena Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center (Italy), and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (South Africa).

I joined the University of Adelaide as Professor of Creative Writing in January 2021. I have held posts in the U.K. as Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Reading and Queen Mary University of London. I am Professor Extraordinary in the English Department at the University of Stellenbosch.

Research Interests

  • Literary Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Transnationalism and migration
  • Surveillance and paranoia
  • Queer theories, affects, and subjectivities
  • Psychoanalysis and literature
  • Lyric forms
  • Film & Photography
  • Contemporary North American Literature
  • Contemporary European Literature in Translation

Recent and Ongoing Research

My four published novels are united by concerns with subjectivity, trauma, memory, migration, paranoia, and surveillance. A. S. Byatt has called me ‘a master of puzzling, alarming, and even terrifying storytelling.’

Absolution (2012) follows a South African expatriate who returns to Cape Town from the United States to write the biography of a celebrated novelist. Told in four voices, the book foregrounds the ethics of representation and the complex demands of recounting traumatic histories. The subject of a long review in the New Yorker magazine, the novel won the 2012 Spear’s Laurent Perrier Best First Book Prize and was shortlisted for others including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize. In 2015 and 2016, Absolution was a set text on the IEB syllabus for South African secondary schools in the final English exam.

Fallen Land (2013), set in the American Midwest, is in conversation with traditions of American writing about the uncanny, the gothic, race, and suburbia. Set in the wake of the mortgage foreclosure crisis, it engages too with such issues as climate change, corporatism under neoliberalism, and debates about the posthuman. The New York Times reviewer, novelist David Vann, called it ‘an engaging attempt to identify the source of sourceless rage and the reasons an American dream, once achieved, can feel empty,’ and said it ‘speaks especially eloquently to our uncertain times’.

In I Am No One (2016), the narrator, a professor of modern German history who returns to New York after a decade at Oxford, becomes convinced he is under government surveillance, and is forced to reassess his relationship with an exiled Egyptian doctoral student. Novelist Teddy Wayne called it ‘a novel of Pynchonesque paranoid ideas, wrapped in psychologically acute Jamesian prose, delivered by a gripping story worthy of Graham Greene’, and the novelist Hanya Yanagihara said it confirmed me as ‘a writer with an uncanny sense of the anxieties and fears that define the modern condition’.

Night for Day (2019) is a formally experimental fiction that follows a group of characters working on a film noir in Hollywood on a single day in 1950 as their lives come to mirror the complicities and betrayals of the picture they are making (and whose screenplay is part of the text) in the shadow of the Red and Lavender scares of McCarthyite America. In the same year I published The Ginger Child: On Family, Loss and Adoption, a hybrid critical-creative work of memoir and criticism that explores questions of belonging, queer identity, and kinship, engaging with the work of Melanie Klein, Eve Sedgwick, Sianne Ngai, and Lee Edelman, amongst others, and offering readings of contemporary fiction, visual art, television, and film—from Caché to Alien: Covenant.

In addition to my ongoing work as a scholar and critic (see my list of publications), I am currently working on a number of creative writing projects including fiction, poetry, and film.

I would be happy to hear from potential doctoral students whose interests and proposals overlap with any of my research areas.

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  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2017 Davids, C. -A., & Flanery, P. (2017). Reflection, understanding, and empathy: a conversation between Carol-Ann Davids and Patrick Flanery. Safundi, 18(3), 291-301.
    DOI Scopus1
    2014 Flanery, P. (2014). Waiting for a moment. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5819), 20.
    2013 Holmes, C. (2013). An Interview with Patrick Flanery. Contemporary Literature, 54(3), 426-458.
    DOI
    2010 Flanery, P. D. (2010). Shinto. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5609), 6.
    2010 Flanery, P. D. (2010). In My Country's filmic betrayals: Reification and the ethics of adapting country of my skull. Safundi, 11(3), 233-260.
    DOI Scopus1
    2009 Denman Flanery, P. (2009). Readership, authority, and identity: Some competing texts of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 103(3), 337-356.
    DOI
    2009 Flanery, P. D. (2009). What national cinema? south african film cultures and the transnational. Safundi, 10(2), 239-253.
    DOI Scopus4
    2008 Flanery, P. D. (2008). Limber: The flexibilities of post-nobel coetzee. Scrutiny2, 13(1), 47-59.
    DOI Scopus1
    2008 Flanery, P. D., & Van Der Vlies, A. (2008). Introduction: Annexing the global, globalizing the local. Scrutiny2, 13(1), 5-19.
    DOI Scopus4
    2008 Flanery, P. D. (2008). The Dean family. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5487), 20.
    2007 Flanery, P. D. (2007). Voiceless views. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5451), 21.
    2007 Flanery, P. D. (2007). We're in charge. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5436), 27.
    2007 Flanery, P. D. (2007). How to get home. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5447-5448), 23.
    2007 Flanery, P. D. (2007). At Grandmother's Ford. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5462), 19-20.
    2006 Flanery, P. (2006). Headlong into art. TLS - The Times Literary Supplement, (5411), 22.
    2004 Flanery, P. D. (2004). (Re-)marking Coetzee & Costello: The [textual] Lives of Animals. English Studies in Africa, 47(1), 61-84.
    DOI Scopus7
  • Books

    Year Citation
    2013 Flanery, P. (2013). Fallen Land. Atlantic Books Ltd.
    2012 Flanery, P. (2012). Absolution. United Kingdom: Atlantic Books.
  • Original Creative Works

    Year Citation
    2019 Authors: Flanery P. Title: Night for Day. Description: N/A. Extent: 327 pages.
    2019 Authors: Flanery P. Title: The Ginger Child On Family, Loss and Adoption. Description: N/A. Extent: 277 pages.
    2016 Authors: Flanery P. Title: I Am No One. Description: N/A. Extent: 352 Pages.
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Principal Supervisor Motivations to Read in the Time of the Virus – ‘Psychological First Aid’ and the Composite Novel Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jane Turner Goldsmith
    2021 Co-Supervisor Writing the Australian Suburban Gothic Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Gillian Erin Hagenus
    2021 Co-Supervisor No Promises: Literary Language and Late Capitalism Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Alex William Sutcliffe
    2021 Co-Supervisor “. . . a story in an obscure corner of the front page . . .” American White Women Novelists: New Recognitions (1950s-1965) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Azadeh Feridoun Pour
    2020 Co-Supervisor Into the Forest: Historical Imagination in Philippine Fiction Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Glenn Lappay Diaz

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