Jo McMillan

The Accidental Immigrants | The Happiness Factory | Motherland | News | About

About my books

My first novel, Motherland, won an Arts Council Individual Literature Award and was published by John Murray in 2015. It came out with Ullstein as Paradise Ost in German the following year.

The Happiness Factory, my second novel, was published by Bluemoose Books in 2022.

My third novel The Accidental Immigrants comes out in 2024.

And research has begun for Novel Four.


About me

I was born in London to a communist teacher mother who wanted to change the world and a father who was a maintenance electrician and wanted everything to stay the same. I spent my early years camping with the Woodcraft Folk and running away from home, and when I was eleven, my mother and I ran away together. We spent our winters organising the British revolution and our summers in East Germany, and in my early twenties, I married a man who worked for a Soviet newspaper. I proposed to him in Moscow and honeymooned in Cuba. And not long after, the Iron Curtain fell.

A chronic post-marital condition and successful treatment with acupuncture took me to China. I travelled widely in the countryside, taught English in the big cities and studied Mandarin at Beijing Foreign Languages University. A chance encounter with China's first legally recognised sex shop led to a Chinese attitudes to sexuality at the University of Leeds.

But sex is a sensitive subject and writing about it not what the authorities wanted. Denied a visa, I went instead to Malaysia and lived in the Chinese community in Melaka. I have since spent time in the UK teaching Adult Literacy and ESOL, and am now settled in Berlin where I work with words and in a community garden. I became a German citizen in 2021.

Jo McMillan


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© Jo McMillan 2024