Shakespeare and Company

🐖On Populism, Post-Truth, and Piggybacking George Orwell. Adam Biles in conversation with Rob Doyle.🐖

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Episode notes

This week our host switches chairs to discuss his new novel, Beasts of England,  state-of-the-farmyard novel about back-stabbers, truth-twisters and corrupt charlatans.

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Manor Farm has reinvented itself as the South of England’s premium petting zoo. Now, instead of a working farm, humans and beasts alike are

invited (for a small fee) to come and stroke, fondle, and take rides on the farm’s inhabitants.

But life is not a bed of roses for the animals, in spite of what their leaders may want them to believe. Elections are rigged, the community is beset by factions, and sacred mottos are being constantly updated. The Farm is descending into chaos. What’s more, a mysterious ‘illness’ has started ripping through the animals, killing them one by one…

In Beasts of England, Adam Biles honours, updates and subverts George Orwell’s classic, all the while channelling the chaotic, fragmentary nature of populist politics in the Internet age into a savage farmyard satire.


Adam Biles is an English writer and translator based in Paris. He is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company, from where he hosts their weekly podcast. In 2022, he conceived and presented Friends of Shakespeare and Company read Ulysses—an epic, polyphonic celebration of James Joyce’s masterwork. Feeding Time, his first novel, was published by Galley Beggar Press in 2016, and was chosen by The Guardian as a Fiction Pick for 2016 and was a book of the year for The Observer, The Irish Times, The Millions and 3:AM Magazine. It was published by Editions Grasset in France in 2018 to great critical acclaim. His second novel, Beasts of England, will be published in September 2023 by Galley Beggar Press, and in 2025 by Editions Grasset. It was selected as a "2023 highlight" by The Guardian. A collection of his conversations with writers, The Shakespeare and Company Book of Interviews, will be published by Canongate in October 2023.

Rob Doyle was born in Dublin. His first novel, Here Are the Young Men, was chosen as a book of the year by the Sunday Times, Irish Times and Independent, and was among Hot Press magazine’s ‘20 Greatest Irish Novels 1916-2016’. Doyle has adapted it for film with director Eoin Macken. Doyle also has a published collection of short stories; This is the Ritual. Doyle is the editor of the anthology The Other Irish Tradition and In This Skull Hotel Where I Never Sleep. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Vice, TLS, Dublin Review, and many other publications, and he writes a weekly books column for the Irish Times. His newest book Threshold will be published in 2020. He teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

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