“A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.”

-Oscar Wilde

Rick Gekoski – Writer

About Rick Gekoski


 Rick Gekoski – described by Tatler as “think Bill Bryson, only on books” – is a writer, rare book dealer, and occasional publisher and  broadcaster. An American who came to England in 1966, he took a B. Phil and D.Phil. in English at Oxford, he is now a British citizen.

From 1971-1987 he was a member of the English Department of the University of Warwick, and sometime Chair of the Faculty of Arts.

He has published a critical book on Joseph Conrad, The Bibliography of William Golding, Staying Up (a book about Premiership Football), a collection of essays entitled Tolkien’s Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books (based on his BBC Radio 4 Series Rare Books, Rare People), Outside of a Dog: A Bibliomemoir, which was short-listed for the PEN Ackerley Prize, and Lost, Stolen, or Shredded: Stories of Missing Works of Art, which broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September-October 2009). in 2017 he published his first novel, Darke,  which was short-listed for the McKitterick Prize and the Author’s Club First Novel Prize,  which was followed by A Long Island Story (2018), and Darke Matter (2020).

His books have been translated into eight languages. From 2010 – 2014 he wrote an online column (about reading, writing and the rare book trade) in The Guardian entitled Finger on the Page.

He has founded two private presses, The Sixth Chamber Press and The Bridgewater Press, which issue finely printed editions of leading contemporary novelists and poets. In 2005 he was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize, and was then Chair of the judges for the Man Booker International Prize 2011, which was awarded to Philip Roth. He taught Creative Non-Fiction for the Arvon Foundation, and sat on their Development Board.

He is a former Trustee and Member of the Board of English PEN, and was elected an Honorary Vice-President of that body in 2014, for his work organizing and curating an auction of annotated first editions by famous writers, held at Sotheby’s in May 2013. Entitled First Editions, Second Thoughts, the auction raised over £439,200 to further the work of English Pen. Highlights included annotated first editions by Julian Barnes, Quentin Blake, Kazuo Ishiguro, JK Rowling, Colm Toibin, and Jeanette Winterson, amongst many others. https://www.englishpen.org/events/highlights-from-the-first-editions-second-thoughts-auction/

He lives in Salisbury, is married to Belinda Kitchin and has two children, Anna who is a forensic psychologist, and Aaron (‘Bertie’) who is a wildlife photographer and campaigner and online TV presenter (www.aarongekoski.com).

Literary Agent: Peter Straus, of Rogers, Coleridge and White. More details

Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Gekoski

Latest Title – Darke Matter

Darke Matter: Published May 14, 2020.


About Darke Matter

“James Darke is dreading the first family Christmas without his wife Suzy. Engulfed by grief, his grudging preparations are interrupted by a persistent knock at the door. Questions about the circumstances of his wife’s death force him to confront the outside world and what really happened to her.

Isolated, angry and diminished, James soon faces a crisis both legal and psychological. It will test his resolve and threaten his freedom.

Darke Matter is a brilliant, mordant examination of the nature and obligations of love. Both immensely sad and extremely funny, the story wrestles with one of the great moral issues of our time.”

The surprising sequel to Darke…

Darke: First published in February 2017

DARKE Published in the US November 8, 2017

Front display in Waterstone’s Piccadilly.


Dr James Darke has expelled himself from the world. He writes compulsively in his ‘coming of old age’ journal; he eats little, drinks and smokes a lot.

Meditating on what he has lost – the loves of his life, both dead and alive – he tries to console himself with the wisdom of the great thinkers and poets, yet finds nothing but disappointment.

Jenny Todd, Publisher at Canongate, have acquired World Rights in DARKE, Rick Gekoski’s debut novel, from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. Jenny Todd says: “DARKE is a stunning and distinctive novel full of living, learning and reading. Above all, it’s heart-breakingly true and wise. We are so proud to be publishing it.”

Canongate published DARKE as a lead title in hardback in the UK in February 2017, with the paperback edition due for release in the UK on 1st February 2018.

Available from Amazon

Available from Waterstones and all good bookshops.

Read Powell’s Q&A: Rick Gekoski, Author of ‘Darke’ for a more detailed synopsis of the novel.

Selected as one of The Times Best Fiction books of 2017.


June 2018: Mozley, Gekoski and Myers shortlisted for SoA awards | The Bookseller

April 2018: Darke shortlisted for Authors’ Club – Annual Best First Novel Award 2018

March 2018: Darke longlisted for Authors’ Club – Annual Best First Novel Award 2018

February 2018: Canongate publish Darke in paperback in the UK.

November 2017: Darke selected as one of The Times Fiction Books of the Year 2017

November 2017: Canongate publish DARKE in the US.

October 2017: Darke – paperback edition due for release in February 2018

February 2017: Canongate publish DARKE as a lead title in hardback in the UK.

October 2016: Canongate acquire world rights.

Some Reviews and Responses

“Darke is a wonderfully written, ferociously single-minded character”

‘I was beguiled and charmed by the vivid personality being revealed. By that, and by the fact that I couldn’t stop reading. Gekoski puts words together with a sure touch and deep craftsmanship’

‘A wondrous book with two fathers, Kingsley Amis and Dante’

‘Staggeringly accomplished. Heartbreakingly true. A shockingly monumental first novel’

‘Stuffed with more wisdom, bile, wit and tenderness than many writers create in a lifetime. In James Darke we have a hero as troubled and eternal as King Lear . . . And in Rick Gekoski we have a late-flowering genius of a novelist who proves it’s never too late to start a glittering career in fiction’

‘Rick Gekoski’s impressive debut novel . . . Darke is both a tender and hard-hitting examination of grief and the slow, singular healing process . . . A brilliantly vivid creation . . . life-affirming and life-shattering’

‘Gekoski has created an extraordinarily memorable character… This is an original and bleakly funny portrait of grief’

‘An immensely enjoyable elegy . . . done with precision and patience. I have never laughed as much at a book that made me weep so copiously’


Radio New Zealand: Interview with Kim Hill – January 2017

Radio National Australia: Books Plus with Kate Evans – May, 2017

Published Books

Rick Gekoski’s follow up to his critically acclaimed debut, Darke, is a novel about 1950s America, a marriage in crisis, and a family falling apart at the seams. It is 1953, a heat wave is sweeping across America and..

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Closely based on my Oxford D Phil, 1972. I don’t believe in the brandishing of keys to writers – Conrad is no more a lock or door than a casket. The central opposition or tension in Conrad is that between his ‘vision of personal autonomy’ and his ‘vision of social…

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I am the only football fan who has written a book containing an inside account of a year in the life of a Premiership team. OK, it was only Coventry City, but the season was 1997/1998, and we finished solidly in the middle of the league, and got to the quarterfinals…

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Based on the radio series Rare Books, Rare People, from BBC Radio 4, Tolkien’s Gown tries to do several things at the same time. It profiles the publishing history of 20 major books (largely) from the twentieth century, and describes the ways in which they have later…

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The title is from Groucho Marx: “Outside of a Dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” which is both funny and a demonstration that homilies about reading are stupid…

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He collected absences. For him they were more intense, vibrant and real than the presences that they shadowed. And this one – he’d just heard the news of the most audacious art theft of his time…

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Dr James Darke has expelled himself from the world. He writes compulsively in his ‘coming of old age’ journal; he eats little, drinks and smokes a lot. Meditating on what he has lost – the loves of his life, both dead and alive…

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