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Rob Magnuson Smith is the author of The Gravedigger (Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Award) and Scorper (Granta Books). Scorper was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘an odd, original, darkly comic novel... Kafka crossed with Flann O'Brien'.

Rob’s short fiction has appeared in Granta, Ploughshares, the Australian Book Review, the Guardian, Cornish Short Stories (The History Press), Fiction International, Guillemot Press and elsewhere. He has won the Elizabeth Jolley Award and been longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

Rob Magnuson Smith



Scorper is a charming, funny, tender pleasure. A pleasing air of mania and madness.

Andrew Miller,
Costa Award winning author of Pure

..the voice rises from the page obvious and essential (in) Rob Magnuson Smith's Scorper. Delightful and entertaining – and often laugh-out-loud funny. Well-conceived and executed with a masterly vision.

Australian Book Review

…a strange, but beautiful book…outstanding.

FarmLane Books


Granta Books

Scorper, noun, a tool used to scoop out broad areas when engraving wood or metal.

An uncanny and sinister tale of an eccentric American visitor to the small Sussex town of Ditchling, searching for stories about his grandfather. A tale of twitching curtains, severed hands and peculiar sexual practices. A book about Eric Gill's artistic legacy, his despicable behaviour and enduring influence. Scorper is a strange and beautiful English comic masterpiece, with added bird bones.

An odd, original, darkly comic novel... It's a funny, unsettling read; Kafka crossed with Flann O'Brien.

Independent on Sunday

[A] funny, disturbing portrayal of a mind at odds with itself.

The Guardian

Scorper is delightful. It's funny, thought-provoking, and different to anything that's preceded it. John Cull is a great character in a cast of great characters... It's a little work of genius.


Powerfully original, funny and strange and haunting.

Tessa Hadley, author

This is rural mystery at its best

– dark, deceitful and uncomfortable.

Absolutely Chelsea

Scorper is most unusual, and most rewarding. Gradually it bleeds from the pastoral through the surreal and into the horrific, like an Evelyn Waugh novel given the Edgar Allen Poe treatment, the kind of story where you don't realize until the shears have closed that you were caught between them.

Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead

Best Novel in Second Person, 2015.

Kirsty Logan, author of The Gracekeepers

Scorper paperback cover

Cover image © John Vernon Lord

Background image © John Vernon Lord

The GraveDigger

The Gravedigger

UNO Press

The gravedigger Henry Bale lives with his ailing dog in the village of Chalk, England. Painfully shy, he is resigned to growing old alone. Then Caroline Ford, an impulsive schoolteacher from Brighton, arrives in Chalk. Caroline awakens Henry to life, and to a fear of death. Their relationship becomes a startling investigation of love, faith, and the search for meaning.

Rob Magnuson Smith, in his deeply moving and beautifully written novel The Gravedigger, gives us passage to the isolated English village of Chalk. There, his characters – the gravedigger, the vicar, the local madman, the schoolteacher – face complicated questions about betrayal, hope, death, and love.  By the end of this page-turning psychological drama, Chalk's residents are changed – they're richer and wiser for the experience. Smith's readers will be too.

Ellen Slezak, author of Last Year's Jesus

The Gravedigger is a wry, soulful glimpse of how one good but lonely man's quiet existence is turned upside down by a late and unexpected love. Rob Magnuson Smith paints a funny, sad, gentle yet ferocious portrait of village life.

Stewart O'Nan, author of
A Prayer for the Dying

To my mind there was one clear standout.  In terms of characterization, plot, unusual fictional universe-making and sheer ability to create The Gravedigger wins hands-down.

Andre Bernard, publisher and judge of The Pirate’s Alley William Wisdom – William Faulkner Award

...permeated with subtle issues of faith, theology and the details of ordinary human beings who love, get drunk, fight, go to church and act in the usual bizarre and odd ways humans do.  Smith’s work is oddly sacramental and the grace of his writing is not to be missed.

Dr Susan Herdahl, Ridge Reviews and Reflections, Gettysburg Seminary

The Gravedigger cover

Cover image © Bill Lavender

‘…an impressive debut. Smith's well-wrought prose beautifully captures the tone of an English village and the awakening of a man whose livelihood depends on death but whose fear keeps him from living.

Publisher’s Weekly

…A story of love and loss, this novel is part romance and part coming-of-age tale for a middle-aged man…(a) genuine and evocative read.


Short stories


Ploughshares. Summer 2019

The Cabildo

A Place in Words. September 2017

(audio, Jeremy Irons)

Read it here   Hear it here

The Elector of Nossnearly

Winner of the Elizabeth Jolley Prize

Australian Book Review. September 2015

Read it here   Announcement here

Cornish Whip

Into the Roots. April 2015


The Literarian. Spring 2013, Issue 12


The Istanbul Review. Summer 2012

The Hollow Men Without Masks

The Reader. Winter 2010, No. 40

The Harvester

The Greensboro Review. Fall 2009, No. 86

The Jump to Man

Fiction International. 2007, No. 40

Read it here

Dissolute Afternoon

Asphodel. Fall 2003, Vol 2, No. 1

Farm Tennis

Granta. April 2020

Read it here


Cornish Short Stories, The History Press. April 2018

Buy it here

Henry and the Moon Baby

Guillemot Press. August 2016

Read it here

Kettleman Point

The Clearing. April 2015

Read it here

The Headhunter’s Trumpet

Poor Yorick. Issue 1, Autumn 2014
Read it here


Tremors. August 2012

Second Skull

The Guardian. September 2011
Read it here

El Pensativa

UEA Creative Writing Anthology. Summer 2010

Read it here

How Daniel Zimmerman Kept Ezra Pound Up All Night (II)

Notes from the Underground. March 2009, Issue 3 (Reprinted)

The Awakening of Chuck Upchurch

Karamu. 2005, Vol XIX, No. 2

How Daniel Zimmerman..(I)

Inkwell. Spring 2002, Issue 13


The Last Emergency Hut in the Arctic

Nowhere Magazine. Fall 2018

Read it here

Why Every English Village Needs a Pub

The Guardian. 31 January 2015

Read it here

Beyond the Sky

Playboy. July/August 2012

The Island of Dr. Ivanov

Playboy. October 2011

Read it here

Best Book of 1901: The Octopus by Frank Norris

Granta. December 2015

Read it here

Brewster’s Ark

Playboy. July/August 2013

Read it here

Beckett Catches Buster

Projector. Issue 2

Read it here

Behind The Gravedigger

New Writing. March 2011




Literary Representation:
Sterling Lord Literistic
594 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Tel: 212-780-6050

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