D M Thomas (Donald Michael Thomas) is a Cornish novelist, poet, playwright and translator.
Born 27 January 1935 in Redruth, Cornwall, he was schooled at Trewirgie Primary School and Redruth Grammar School. He graduated from New College, Oxford with a First Class Honours in English in 1959. Thomas studied Russian during his National Service in the 1950s, the height of the Cold War.
Science fiction magazine New Worlds published his poetry and prose from 1968. His big break came with The White Hotel, short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1981. The judges would have split the prize between him and Salman Rushdie (for Midnight’s Children) but that wasn’t in the rules. The Booker prize rules were changed to allow sharing of the prize the following year. The book caused a lot of controversy for its postmodern use of passages from Babi Yar, Anatoly Kuznetsov’s story about the Holocaust. It was awarded the Los Angeles Times Fiction prize and became an international bestseller, translated into 30 languages.
Thomas started translating Russian poetry in 1982, including a few of Pushkin’s works.
He has received the Cholmondeley award for poetry and the Orwell Prize for his biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Now living in Truro, his most recent work is Corona man, a fictional verse journal of the plague year 2020.