The Complete Smoking Diaries

Simon Gray

Published: 5 September 2013
Hardback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 864 pages
ISBN: 9781847088482


When he turned sixty-five, playwright Simon Gray began to keep a diary in which he reflected on a life filled with cigarettes (continuing), alcohol (stopped), several triumphs and many more disasters, shame, adultery, friendship and love. Bringing together the four parts of The Smoking Diaries (The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer, The Last Cigarette, and Coda) this beautiful volume is filled with comedy and serious reflection, sharp observation and painful self-disclosure. A brilliant and moving account of life's unsteady progress, it takes the reader to the heart of one man's brilliant struggle towards some kind of personal truth.

About the author

Image of Simon Gray

Simon Gray was born in 1936. He began his writing career with Colmain, the first of five novels published by Faber. He is the author of many plays for TV and radio and films, including After Pilkington, which won the Prix Italia, and the Emmy Award-winning Unnatural Pursuits. He wrote more than thirty stage plays, among them Butley and Otherwise Engaged, which both received Evening Standard Awards for Best Play, and The Late Middle Classes, winner of the Barclay's Best Play Award. His plays Little Nell and Missing Dates were both broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and The Last Cigarette, which he adapted with Hugh Whitemore from The Smoking Diaries, premiered in March 2009. In 1991 he was the BAFTA Writer of the Year. His acclaimed works of non-fiction include An Unnatural Pursuit, How's That for Telling 'Em, Fat Lady? and, published by Granta, Fat Chance, Enter a Fox, The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer and The Last Cigarette. He was appointed CBE in the 2005 New Year's Honours for his services to drama and literature. Simon Gray died in August 2008. More about the author


‘Brilliantly offbeat’ Books of the Year



‘Curmudgeonly, charming, capricious and finely crafted, this makes you think of Samuel Pepys or Alan Clarke. But it is neither. It is Gray’

‘He has brilliantly invented a new kind of autobiography’ Barry Humphries, Books of the Year

‘His beautifully written, addictively readable, unsparingly honest journals are his greatest achievement - they will survive the test of time’ Charles Spencer

‘Laugh aches guaranteed’

‘Made me laugh out loud’ Lynn Barber, Books of the Year

‘One of the funniest books I have ever read’ Philip Hensher

‘Relentlessly self-mocking and self-scrutinizing, all while pretending to be just out on a lark; brilliantly orchestrated into a sustained thematic, psychological and philosophical whole... Unbelievably beautiful, unbelievably great, utterly loneliness-assuaging’ David Shields, Books of the Year

‘Shot through with wistfulness, and tender remembered glamour, and genuine love, for people, and for the last century, and, actually, for films and plays, it is also whitened on every page with the honestly of intelligence... an all-consuming, if uncategorisable, read’ Euan Ferguson

‘There are few things more enjoyable than reading Gray's diaries’

‘These are not conventional diaries but a wonderful interweaving of memories, events and anecdotes, fuelled by nicotine and his irresistible taste for black comedy’ Lynn Barber ‘Best Books’

‘This record of his life at 65... is written with wonderful precision, yet reads as if it were tumbling effortlessly out of Gray's mind and onto the page’ Books of the Year

‘Very, very funny. Written in beautifully exact stream-of-consciousness - the prose equivalent of a clown speed-riding a unicycle across a high wire - they whizz back and forth between whimsy and terror, hilarity and gloom, with no pause for breath in between’ Craig Brown

‘Works of rare honesty, humanity and wit that are surely destined to be read with pleasure - and scores of footnotes - a hundred years from now’

‘Writing with wit, spontaneity and moral courage’ Iain Finlayson

‘You should go out and buy The Smoking Diaries right now... you are unlikely to come across a funnier, cleverer, more painful book’ Robert Hanks

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