Author photo of Rachel Genn


Rachel Genn is a neuroscientist, artist and writer who has written two novels: The Cure (2011) and What You Could Have Won (2020). She was a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence (2016), creating The National Facility for the Regulation of Regret, which spanned installation art, VR and film (2016-17). She has written for Granta, 3:AM Magazine, and Hotel, and is working on Hurtling, a hybrid collection of essays about the neuroscience, art and abjection of artistic reverie. She’s also working on a binaural experience exploring paranoia, and a collection of non-fiction about fighting and addiction to regret. Genn works at the Manchester Writing School and the School of Digital Arts, both at Manchester Metropolitan University, and lives in Sheffield.


Sarah Gilmartin
Irish Times

[Genn] shows a fearlessness in her writing that is matched by her desire to go deep into the ugly parts of human nature . . . The hardship of addiction and the mental drain of celebrity are vividly rendered.

Fiona Sturges
The Guardian

Bracingly caustic.

Emily Hay
The Skinny

Genn has woven a deft tale of toxicity, both in substances and relationships, which keeps the reader hooked and discombobulated in equal measure.

Alastair Mabbott
The Herald

A study of addiction that’s dark and knotty, but lightened by flashes of compassion and wit.

Rebecca Hussey
Foreword Reviews

What You Could Have Won is a lively, bracing novel about the perils of attraction; it brims with insights into physical and emotional dependency.

Joanna Walsh

'Exuberant, limber, sexy, incandescent, frenetic, addictive.'

Sara Baume

‘Every page hums with incisive detail, black wit and hard truth.’

Eley Williams

‘Sensuous, fraught-languorous, and wholly compelling: Genn's novel is a triumph of wit, stylish prose and observation. I loved it.’

Juliet Jacques

'Genn brings light to the darker sides of love, writing with sensitivity and empathy about fame, desire and resilience. Intricately plotted and delicately written, What You Could Have Won is subtle, yet sharp.'

Helen Mort

‘Spectacular, dizzying, utterly addictive: regret, desire, hopeless love, searing wit. As one protagonist says: “a good story is a good story because it makes you its own”. Genn's novel completely claimed me.’

Andrew McMillan

‘How can I write something that does justice to the unexpected turns, the dazzling intricacies, the humour and the heartbreak and the poetic description of this novel? I can’t – I’d better ask Rachel Genn to do it for me.’

M John Harrison

‘Rachel Genn takes up her tender knife again, to lay open the complexities of a relationship entangled in both public and private power. What You Could Have Won is a fiery, irresistible trip through music, drugs and personal agency.'

Nicholas Royle

‘Imagine William Gibson and M John Harrison had been commissioned to collaborate on a novel about sex, drugs, rock & roll and The Sopranos.’

Holly Pester

‘The split-screen dynamic of this battle of wills is an electrifying joy to read unlike anything else around, with the best placed squid ink incident and Sopranos boxset plot devices ever.’

Katharine Towers

‘Genn's sentences bristle with enjoyably reckless energy, in a power struggle rendered with forensic verve.’

Kirkus Reviews

‘Genn, a neuroscientist and artist, displays strength in her intensity and scene painting, like Astrid’s performance at a substance-fueled gig or the blackly comic description of three naked men attempting to revive her after she chokes on a doughnut. A playful, challenging cautionary tale.’

Praise for The Cure

‘Startlingly Tender.’ Time Out

‘Genn’s narrative voice proves unusually nimble in its ironic, sympathetic shifts between the players in this compact saga. The Cure yields a surprising tensile strength for such a slim volume.’ Herald Scotland

‘I loved The Cure. Rachel Genn offers a new and convincing take on the experience of the Irish migrant worker, evoking in exhilarating dialogue the multi-ethnic Babel of contemporary London. This is a story of family secrets, fierce male friendships and slow-burning love.’ Joe Treasure

‘The Geiger counter of Rachel Genn’s prose moves over her characters' souls with forensic precision, detecting the minute shifts and vacillations that take place below the level of consciousness - those very things that make us human.’ Kathy Towers, Seamus Heaney Centre prize winning poet

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