Children Of The Sun

Max Schaefer

Published: 3 February 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781847082428


1970: Fourteen-year-old Tony becomes seduced by the skinhead movement, sucked into a world of brutal racist violence and bizarre ritual. It's a milieu in which he must hide his homosexuality, in which every encounter is explosively risky. 2003: James is a young TV researcher, living with his boyfriend. At a loose end, he begins to research the far right in Britain and its secret gay membership. He becomes particularly fascinated by Nicky Crane, the leader of the movement who came out as gay before dying of Aids in 1993. The two narrative threads of this extraordinarily assured and ambitious first novel follow Tony through the 1970s, '80s and '90s, as the skinhead movement splinters and weakens, and James through a year in which he becomes dangerously immersed in his research, making contact with individuals on far-right websites and receiving threatening phone calls. And then the lives of these two very different heroes unforgettably intersect ... Children of the Sun is a work of great imaginative sympathy and range - a novel of unblinking honesty but also of deep feeling, which illuminates the surprisingly thin line that separates aggression from tenderness and offers us a picture of a Britain that is strange and yet utterly convincing.

About the author

Image of Max Schaefer

Max Schaeffer was born in London in 1974 and studied at Cambridge and Harvard Universities. Children of the Sun is his first novel. More about the author


Children of the Sun is set among thugs in a mean, arid London landscape, yet thematically it occupies ground worthy of Mishima or Visconti. For Max Schaefer's debut novel is brave enough to propose that the strange phenomenon of homosexual fascism is not simply a case of gay men hiding out amid the ranks of their oppressors; but also a yet more sinister adoration of power's place in sex. Schaefer has a special gift for depicting the tumultuous pull-and-push of crowds, also for evoking the sense of predatory edge and "buzz" common both to fistfights and sexual encounters. This is a very intriguing, involving and provocative novel, structurally smart, sociologically fascinating, and written in confident, sinuous prose’ Richard Kelly, author of CRUSADERS



Children of the Sun is thought-provoking and impressively researched’ Josh Raymond

‘A brilliant first novel ... This is a well-researched book and the page-turning action of the novel is supplemented with a raft of duplicated press cuttings from the period ... This book gives a fascinating insight into fascist organizations in Britain since the 1970s ... The only question after such a striking first novel is, what will he do next?’ Alan Kenny

‘A debut novel that has confidence and verve’ Doug Johnstone

‘A disquieting debut that dives headlong into the murky world of British neo-nazism and centres provocatively on homosexuality within the movement’

‘A gritty journey through the political and sexual subcultures of inner-city London ... It's certainly an intense read ... Max Schaefer is undoubtedly a writer of some talent’ Steve Andrew

‘A very original debut and a very compulsive read, Children of the Sun had me hooked from the first page to the last’ David Peace

‘An impressive debut ... a meticulously researched and painstakingly drawn account of the skinhead movement in Britain ... Schaefer is an immensely talented writer; his descriptions are lyrical and his dialogue is excellent ... his book climbs to a smart, understated and poignant end’

‘Engrossing, confronting and erotic, and rigorously intelligent ... Schaefer balances the play between documentary and fiction with expert craft’ Christos Tsiolkas

‘Fiction has the power to effect a leap of sympathy. Guided by a good writer - and Schaefer possesses undeniable skills - we'll willingly spend several hours inside the heads of people we would strenuously avoid on the street’

‘Max Schaefer's debut has wonderful material ... it is filled with brilliant evocations of period atmosphere. Those who can recall Anti-Nazi League marches and gay London in those days will feel all the joy (and the mourning) of recognition, but you don't need to have been there: the whole point of good writing is to make you feel that you were, and Schaefer does it wonderfully ... sit back and revel in Schaefer's truly excellent re-creations of that uncannily familiar and utterly strange place, our very own sexual-political past’ James Hawes

‘Max Schaefer's disquieting debut dives headlong into the murky world of British neo-nazism ... [its] delirious melding of reality and invention is striking ... Schaefer creates a vivid sense of place, whether it's the stink and adrenalin of a public-toilet encounter or sharp tableaux from the 2003 anti-war march in London ... Children of the Sun's incongruities are often its greatest strength, throwing both storylines into unsettling relief’ Siobhan Murphy

‘Schaefer can certainly write a gripping set piece ... He is also very funny’ Chris Ross

‘Schaefer has written an arresting debut’ Stewart Home

‘Schaefer skilfully explores the notions of camaraderie and brotherhood that are established through fascist ideals and portrays the explosive homosexuality that simmers beneath the surface of such a milieu ... Schaefer creates sympathetic characters and weaves the narratives of his two protagonists with elegance ... a read that is at the same time both uncomfortable and fascinating’ Byrony Byrne

‘Schaefer's novel gives a fascinating insight into a dark episode of British history that some parts of the country seem to be returning to ... The novel's two sections are interspersed with real research clippings ... which add to the vividness. Real events and people are subtly woven into fiction ... [an] excellent debut’ Rowena Macdonald

‘Striking debut novel about homosexuality and the far right with two interweaving stories’ Alice O’Keefe

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