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" Seek the truth and run from

those who claim to have found it "

after André Gide

Gok Wan in Search of God

January 4th, 2013

Lady Godiva by John Collier c.1898Every author wants to get reviewed, and anyone who’s ever been published knows how hard it is to get a review of any kind – let alone in a major national newspaper or magazine.

Just look at the maths – good old Wikipedia has a page devoted to the stats of books published per annum by country here

Last year over 328,000 were published in the USA, 206,000 in the UK

Two years ago I was lucky enough to get masses of reviews in colour supplements, national newspapers, blogs, academic sites and so on. And they were often long – double page spreads with lots of pictures. One newspaper even reviewed me twice! How come? Well the title explains: A Brief History of Nakedness and the response really proved the point of my book – which is that it’s a hugely entertaining and rich subject for exploration.

I learnt two things from such a welter of publicity – one was that quite often the reviewer had clearly not read the book, but had scanned it. I could pick these ones out by the way I found they were paraphrasing what I had written or the publisher’s blurb. The other one was that sometimes the worst thing can be the best thing in the long run.

One Oxford don had written a great review for The Telegraph one Friday, but another don, from a rival college, wrote a bizarre rant about it for The Observer that Sunday that was so hysterical a friend rang to say that on Monday Blackwells had already sold out. Despite the obvious fact that the reviewer hadn’t read the book, he did come up with one nice catch-phrase that I’ve resisted using so far:  ‘Gok Wan in quest of God – that’s Carr-Gomm’.

Later that week I was rung by the Wellcome Institute and asked to give a talk on the book for them, quickly followed by another invitation to speak on it at the Lowrie Gallery in Salford.

Now that the paperback edition has just come out, I’m resisting the temptation to ask that reviewer to have another swipe at it! Instead the book has just received a really well-considered review in a blog that many readers will like for its wide-ranging and intelligent articles: The Generalist. In it the reviewer John May has also performed a great service for us, providing an illustrated round-up of significant news about nakedness from the last year. Have a look at his review here and ‘News Round Up’ here. Then rush to buy a copy here in the UK and here in the USA!

3 Responses to “Gok Wan in Search of God”

  1. Hi Philip,

    I note this statement in the review:

    “Much of this section of the book confirms that naked protest is alive and well in many different forms and countries, except for the Middle East where it is non-existent.”

    Without pulling out my copy of the book to check what you say exactly, I’m sure you’re aware that naked protest in the Middle East has emerged in the last year or so (since the publication of your book anyway). A much more dangerous proposition all around, I would have thought!

    See and

    Hope you are well!

  2. Hi Paul,
    I was aware of the Iranian Women’s ‘Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar’ and blogged on this recently. But I wasn’t aware of the other link you give to the Egyptian protest. Many thanks for this. I’ll pass this on to John May – maybe he can update his News Round-Up. It’s interesting to see an idea spreading…
    Happy New Year!

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