The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
StoriesNine classic short stories portraying the isolation, criminality, morality, and rebellion of the working class from award-winning, bestselling author Alan Sillitoe
The titular story follows the internal decisions and external oppressions of a seventeen-year-old inmate in a juvenile detention center who is known only by his surname, Smith. The wardens have given the boy a light workload because he shows talent as a runner. But if he wins the national long-distance running competition as everyone is counting on him to do, Smith will only vindicate the very system and society that has locked him up. “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” has long been considered a masterpiece on both the page and the silver screen. Adapted for film by Sillitoe himself in 1962, it became an instant classic of British New Wave cinema.
In “Uncle Ernest,” a middle-aged furniture upholsterer traumatized in World War II, now leads a lonely life. His wife has left him, his brothers have moved away, and the townsfolk treat him as if he were a ghost. When the old man finally finds companionship with two young girls whom he enjoys buying pastries for at a café, the local authorities find his behavior morally suspect. “Mr. Raynor the School Teacher” delves into a different kind of isolation—that of a voyeuristic teacher who fantasizes constantly about the women who work in a draper’s shop across the street. When his students distract him from his lustful daydreams, Mr. Raynor becomes violent.
The six stories that follow in this iconic collection continue to cement Alan Sillitoe’s reputation as one of Britain’s foremost storytellers, and a champion of the condemned, the oppressed, and the overlooked.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alan Sillitoe including rare images from the author’s estate.
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“Sillitoe offers an authentic and vivacious portrait. . . . A sheer delight.” —Saturday Review
?“A beautiful piece of work.” —The Guardian?
“Mr. Sillitoe is a born writer, who knows his milieu and describes it with vivid, loving precision.” —The Daily Telegraph
?“There are few writers around who can rival Sillitoe when it comes to the complicated business of noticing things.” —TheLiterary Review
“Miles nearer the real thing than D. H. Lawrence’s mystic, brooding workingmen ever came.” —Sunday Express
“All the imaginative sympathy in the world can’t fake this kind of thing . . . we are lucky to have a writer who has come out of it knowing the truth, and having the skill to turn that truth into art.” —New Statesman
Praise for Alan Sillitoe
“One of the best English writers of the day.” —The New York Times Book Review
“In a time when both Colin Wilson and Albert Camus were famous for writing books entitled The Outsider, [Alan Sillitoe] was an outsider’s outsider.” —Daily Mirror
“A master storyteller.” —The Observer
About the author
Alan Sillitoe (1928–2010) was a British novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright, known for his honest, humorous, and acerbic accounts of working-class life. Sillitoe served four years in the Royal Air Force and lived for six years in France and Spain, before returning to England. His first novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, was published in 1958 and was followed by a collection of short stories, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature. With over fifty volumes to his name, Sillitoe was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997.