Strange Labyrinth | Granta

  • Published: 01/02/2018
  • ISBN: 9781783783458
  • 129x20mm
  • 416 pages

Strange Labyrinth

Will Ashon

In litter-strewn Epping Forest on the edge of London, might a writer find that magical moment of transcendence? He will certainly discover filthy graffiti and frightening dogs, as well as world-renowned artists and fading celebrities, robbers, lovers, ghosts and poets. But will he find himself? Or a version of himself he might learn something from?

Strange Labyrinth is a quest narrative arguing that we shouldn’t get lost in order to find ourselves, but solely to accept that we are lost in the first place. It is a singular blend of landscape writing, political indignation, cultural history and wit from a startling new voice in non-fiction.

Wilder than Macfarlane, funnier than Deakin and more emotionally engaged than Sebald, Will Ashon turns getting lost in the forest into high art, and great entertainment. By the end you'll probably be looking for a berth up a tree alongside him

Matt Thorne

Strange Labyrinth is a wonderful exploration of the tangled undergrowth of the psyche. Ashon is an anarchic Green Man; a puckish punk of the forests and here he has invented a new genre: Gonzo Romanticism

Jon Day

I found it mercilessly lucid, wildly expansive yet down-to-earth, and misanthropic as only books with real heart can be. There's tendency to treat psychogeography as a form of archaeology but he bypasses anything resembling fossils for a more intriguing, irreverent and animated approach. These are fragments of the past brought to life in the present, and a fascinating, cynical yet wide-eyed and inspiring, despite itself, present set in the greater scheme of things. A journey into the dark and terrible maze that is England with a guide as much Minotaur as Theseus

Darran Anderson

The Author

Will Ashon is the author of Chamber Music (Granta, 2018) Strange Labyrinth (Granta, 2017) and two novels. He previously ran BIG DADA records where his artists included Roots Manuva, MF DOOM, Kate Tempest and Diplo.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Chamber Music

Will Ashon

‘One of the most rewarding pieces of hip-hop criticism ever written’ Jeff Chang
‘Brilliant’ Giles Peterson
‘Will Ashon’s dazzling study gets to the heart of hip hop, pop culture and the history of contemporary America. Essential’ Matt Thorne
‘Each of these chambers contains wonders of history, destiny and mythology’ Margo Jefferson

Will Ashon tells, in 36 interlinked ‘chambers’, the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualise, reveal and honour this singularly composite work of art.

From the FBI’s war on drugs to the porn theatres of 42nd street, from the history of jazz to the future of politics, Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.

Will Ashon on

In Conversation | The Online Edition

In Conversation: Will Ashon and Greg Milner

Will Ashon & Greg Milner

‘The techniques of hip-hop are always evolving – does that make it an inherently unstable technology, and is that where much of its aesthetic excitement derives from?’