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  • Published: 14 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448191321
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

Straight White Male

Another brilliant comic satire, but Niven's most accessible yet.

Kennedy Marr is a novelist from the old school. Irish, acerbic, and a borderline alcoholic and sex-addict, his mantra is drink hard, write hard and try to screw every woman you meet.

He's writing film scripts in LA, fucking, drinking and insulting his way through Californian society, but also suffering from writers block and unpaid taxes. Then a solution presents itself - Marr is to be the unlikely recipient of the W. F. Bingham Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Modern Literature, an award worth half a million pounds. But it does not come without a price: he must spend a year teaching at the English university where his ex-wife and estranged daughter now reside.

As Kennedy acclimatises to the sleepy campus, inspiring revulsion and worship in equal measure, he's forced to reconsider his precarious lifestyle. Incredible as it may seem, there might actually be a father and a teacher lurking inside this 'preening, narcissistic, priapic, sociopath'. Or is there.

Straight White Male is a no-holds-barred look into the mid-life crisis and the contemporary male sexual psyche. It is a brilliant new satire from one of Britain's sharpest writers.

  • Published: 14 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448191321
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

John Niven

John Niven was born in Irvine, Ayrshire. He is the author of ten novels and has written for a wide range of publications, including a weekly column for the Scottish Sunday Mail. He lives in Buckinghamshire.

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Praise for Straight White Male

John Niven is probably the most exciting British writer working today and Straight White Male is addictive, biting, scathing, hilarious and true. I wish I'd never read it so I could read it all again.

Danny Wallace

The most loveable rogue since John Self in Money. Funny as hell and moving.

Ian Rankin

There's nothing faster, sadder or funnier than John Niven on men. I cried three times and laughed fifty. Magnificent.

Caitlin Moran

Deliciously hyperbolic, obscenely funny, unexpectedly affecting. Niven never, ever, pulls a punch.

Rupert Thomson

Straight White Male is a heartbreaker; a poignant literary treatise on the all-too-mortal battle between human individual desire and social need, disguised as a high-octane novel of laddish excess.

Irvine Welsh

The prose is quick, with a distant narrative voice controlling the multiple characters with such assurance that it becomes a character in itself. There are some car-crash scenes that fans of Niven's work will be familiar with, but he carefully balances farce with emotive drama, and as Marr begins to plummet towards rock bottom, he's left to deal with consequences that prove no one can have everything ... For pure entertainment it's a triumph.

The List

It's an incredible piece of satire, this time about the Hollywood film industry, with a protagonist easily as vile as 'Kill your Friends'' Stelfox . Niven created a full-on flesh-and-blood, multilayered, breathing and growing character with depth to his soul that he himself needs to uncover in equally funny and agonising steps, sucked in by his contempt and debauchery, only to find himself struggling to dig his way out of the mire of consequences and heartbreak .. Straight White Male is a novel that has ripped right through me.

Pattis Blog

A sharp satire.


With Straight White Male John Niven takes humour to another level .Cleverly combining side-splitting humour and unexpected poignancy Niven's assessment of the excesses of the male psyche is one of the best things I have read in a long time . Straight White Male had me laughing, crying, cringing and blushing all at once.

Stylist, ***** review

[A] page-turning satire that's a masterclass in plate-spinning comic timing.


Uproariously funny, this brims with black comedy, but has an incredibly moving story of redemption.

Sunday Mirror

It takes confidence to write a book critiquing books and writers, with a central character who's abundantly free with his views, but Niven shouldn't be underestimated.The tone here is authentic . Funny and angry, for sure, yet also thought and humane . Straight White Male is strong indeed.

The Times

Straight White Male is in some ways a return to the coruscating satirical landscape of Niven's debut, yet blended with a maturity and emotional depth that will have the reader shedding a tear as well as laughing in guilty outrage .[Niven] creates a truly moving examination of male midlife crisis, and what it means to be a son, a father, a husband and all the rest. Hilarious and heartfelt in equal measure, this is another candidate for novel of the year.

The Big Issue

Straight White Male revisits the familiar Niven world . but this time with a more mature edge - this is a novel about family, growing up, and even love - and a smart assault on academia and the nature of literature . It's as though Martin Amis decided after Money that being entertaining as well as smart was the way to go . Most fun.

David Quantick, Q Magazine

John Niven has much, much more fun with Kennedy's drinking, fornicating, fighting, time-wasting antics than with his putative rehabilitation, and the reader does, too. We can't help rooting for Kennedy, a seducer but never a misogynist; a charmer who rushes at life with zest and brio . Straight White Male is a sharp and knowing satire of the film industry, publishing and academia ... Thoroughly enjoyable.

Suzi Feay, Guardian

If such a thing as the anti-Hilary Mantel exists in British literature, Niven is probably it. All his stories are madcap cavalcades of disorder, violence, vomit, sex, cocaine, moral turpitude, waste matter and money .Straight White Male is more measured than its predecessors, but only in the sense that Eraserhead is more measured than Cannibal Holocaust . At no point in Straight White Male do you get bored. A kinder, gentler Niven wouldn't be much use to anybody.Its wordview is dodgy, its execution is brutalist, and it's much funnier than it has any right to be.

Sunday Business Post

[Kennedy] is a wonderfully appalling anti-hero, in the mould of Martin Amis's John Self, but also acquires an increasingly prominent and moving backstory as the novel progresses. Fizzing with energy and full of laughs.

Daily Mail

belly laughs and some surprising tenderness.


There seems to be a number of books out recently about middle-aged men's neurosis . but this book is far away and the best I've read on this topic. It's hilarious . This book is funny and brilliant as it attacks the literary and film world. Don't miss it.


tack-sharp dialogue and [an] enviable turn of phrase.This book will make readers cry with both laughter and sadness. It's not for the faint of heart, but man, what a yarn.

Press Association syndicated review

Niven really does capture the pretensions of lit-scenes outside the London loop extraordinarily well . [There is] a sense of elegy and complication that stays with you long after the final page.

3AM magazine

Straight White Male is a horrid little book in lots of ways, a bleary squint into the squalid world of a deeply rancid person. Its worldview is dodgy, its execution is brutalist, and it's much funnier than it has any right to be.

Sunday Business Post

Uproariously funny, this brims with black comedy, but has an incredibly moving story of redemption.


John Niven's debut, 2008's Kill Your Friends, eviscerated the music business, and the hedonistic depths plumbed by its protagonist, the A&R man Steven Stelfox, enough to cause a mortified blush in even the brassiest reader. While maintaining the key essence of that debut - a groove of exhilarating outrageousness that never lets up - Niven's latest is a more mature work.Niven's plotting is deft and precise.Straight White Male is caustic and poignant, yet consistently, addictively funny.Clever and joyous, this deserves to do even better than Niven's bestselling debut.

Independent on Sunday

[S]harply written ... a seriously funny book ... the writing ... is so buzzy and fresh it's still wet on the page.

Evening Standard

A hugely entertaining and surprisingly moving book.

The Bookbag

The novel is as much comic as tragic.Hilarious.The gimlet-eyed descriptions of celebrity life are impossible to read without smirking.[Niven] can provoke tears of sorrow as well as laughter. . . The complexity and inexplicability of love is a serious subject but, thanks to Niven's talent, the manopause (sic) has never been such fun.

Sunday Telegraph

An incredible book about hedonism


I loved that book.

Chrissie Hynde, Q magazine

[O]ne of my favourite reads of the year . Funny, irreverent, touching and well-written, this is definitely recommended.

Civilian Reader

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