Ann Quin


Introduction by Joshua Cohen

Three opens with the disappearance at sea, possibly suicide, of a young woman, identified only as S. A middle-aged couple, Ruth and Leonard, had been spying on their young lodger in their summer house by the sea, and now begin to pore over her diary, her audio recordings and her movies – only to discover that she had been spying on them with even greater intensity.

As this disturbing, highly charged act of reciprocal voyeurism comes to light, and as the couple’s fascination with S comes to dominate their already flawed marriage, what emerges is an absorbing portrait of their triangular relationship and the emotional and sexual undercurrents of 1950s British middle-class life.


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  • Introduced by novelist Joshua Cohen who also ghostwrote Edward Snowden’s memoir of our surveillance state, Permanent Record.
  • Ian Patterson explores Ann Quin’s works in the London Review of Books, delving into The Unmapped Country, Berg, and Three.
  • You can read writers including Deborah Levy, Joanna Walsh, Juliet Jacques and Danielle Dutton on Ann Quin in Music & Literature No. 7.
Print status: Available
Author: Ann Quin
Original language: English
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date (UK): 6 October 2020
Publication date (US): 10 November 2020
ISBN: 9781911508847
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508854
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 160


Juliet Jacques
Music & Literature

'The amount of wit and beauty Three finds in its own uncertainty makes it one of the most compelling novels of its time.'

The Scotsman

‘Exquisitely written from the first page to the last.’

Brian Evenson

‘An intriguing and successful novel, and remarkably contemporary in its stylistic sophistication.’

Praise for Ann Quin

‘I suspect that Ann Quin will eventually be viewed, alongside BS Johnson and Alexander Trocchi, as one of the few mid-century British novelists who actually, in the long term, matter.’ Tom McCarthy

‘Quin's militant refusal to compromise flavours her writing: you either take her on her own terms, or not at all. Richer and stranger than the satisfactions of mainstream fiction.’ Jonathan Coe

‘Quin understood she was on to something new.’ Deborah Levy

‘One of our greatest ever novelists. Ann Quin’s was a new British working-class voice that had not been heard before: it was artistic, modern, and – dare I say it – ultimately European.’ Lee Rourke

‘Ann Quin is a master painter of interiors, of voices that mosaic as they catch the light at strange, stirring angles.’ Chloe Aridjis

‘One of Britain’s most adventurous post-war writers. Psychologically dark and sexually daring.’ Juliet Jacques

'Quin works over a small area with the finest of tools. Every page, every word gives evidence of her care and workmanship.' New York Times

‘Quin’s prose never falters; it’s stunning.’ The Paris Review

‘Despite ongoing rumours of a BS Johnson revival, I feel our attention could be more usefully directed towards Ann Quin.’ Stewart Home, in 69 Things to do with a Dead Princess

‘The most naturally and delicately gifted novelist of her generation.’ The Scotsman

‘Rare enough is a book that begins by stating its intention—rarer still one that proceeds to do seemingly everything it can to avoid following the path its intention has laid.’ Danielle Dutton

‘Quin was a writer ahead of her time.’ Publishers Weekly

‘Vividly intense and almost palpably immediate.’⁠ Irish Times

‘Quin uses carefully crafted imagery to stimulate the reader's subconscious.’ Booklist

‘Quin tosses out hefty dashes of mordant humour and caustic wit.’ Library Journal