The Children of Men by P.D. James

Novelist Andrew Hunter Murray and biographer Laura Thompson join us to discuss The Children of Men (1992), a dystopian thriller by the late P.D. James. The author is probably best remembered as one of Britain’s greatest exponents of detective fiction, an heir to the Golden Age of female novelists such as Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers et al. In The Children of Men, however, James depicts a nightmare near-future in which the world is literally coming to an end. The book became a bestseller; in 2006, it was adapted for the big screen by the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón. We look at the ways in which James explored issues that seem eerily contemporary: the societal impact of an uncontrolled virus, falling fertility rates, an ageing population, the rise of populism and accompanying exploitation of migrant labour. She also knew how to grip her readers to the very last page. Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, lived a long and remarkable life and it was a pleasure for all of us to revisit her work and biography in this episode. 

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