Sarah Quigley: novelist, columnist, editor

Sarah Quigley is a novelist, non-fiction writer, poet and editor. Born in New Zealand, she has an MA Hons from the University of Canterbury and a D.Phil. in Literature from the University of Oxford. After graduating from Oxford she lived in San Diego for a year, working as an editor at The Reader newspaper and writing her debut novel, After Robert.

Quigley is a graduate of Bill Manhire’s creative writing course. She has written five novels, a creative writing manual, and collections of short fiction and poetry. Publishers include Penguin, Random House, Virago and Head of Zeus. Her best-selling novel The Conductor, telling the story of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and its performance in besieged Leningrad in 1942, was the highest-selling adult fiction title in New Zealand, staying at Number One for twenty weeks, and was subsequently widely translated. It was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prix Femina.

Quigley has won both the Commonwealth Short Story Award and the Sunday Star Times Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Fish Short Story Prize and the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest.

Her novels and short fiction are characterized by sharp, often humorous observation and a love of the limitless possibilities of language. Reviewing her novel Fifty Days, The Observer wrote: ‘Sensual, monstrous and bewitching … Quigley’s prose imparts constant shocks of lyricism, intensity and acuity’.

Quigley won Columnist of the Year in the MPA Awards for her monthly column ‘The Divorce Diaries’, which she has since developed into a full-length book.

She is based in Berlin, where she works as a freelance writer and a professional editor for a number of international publishers and literary agencies.

Sarah Quigley

More than twenty years ago I read an interview with the English actress Victoria Hamilton in which she talked about her feelings when going onstage. The play, she explained, was her ‘rock’, and she went on to say: ‘When I hit the stage, I can feel my pulse slowing down’. I’ve always remembered this description because it’s how I feel about writing. Amidst any kind of stress or emotional storms, writing is my rock, and my books are solid ground.