David Coventry was born in 1969 and lives in Wellington with his wife, the novelist Laura Southgate. Coventry’s debut, The Invisible Mile, was described as ‘one of the most gruelling novels about sport ever written’, one which ‘immediately places David Coventry among the elite of New Zealand authors’, and won the Hubert Church Award for Best First Book at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His second novel, Dance Prone, is published in July 2020 by VUP and in the UK by Picador.
The Invisible Mile (2015) re-imagines the 1928 Tour de France as a metaphor for the memorisation of WWI traumas as nationalistic heroism. The novel is published in New Zealand by Victoria University Press, in the UK and Commonwealth by Picador UK, and the USA and Canada by Europa Editions. It has been translated into Dutch, Hebrew, Spanish, Danish and German and found its way onto multiple local and international book of the year rolls and prize longlists.
David received his MA in 2010 from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington, where he is currently working on a PhD project exploring the complexities and impossibilities of living a creative life with ME/CFS. He was the recipient of the 2015 Todd New Writer’s Bursary administered by Creative New Zealand.
‘If David Coventry’s vivid début were only about the sport of cycling, it would be one of the most gruelling novels about sport ever written in New Zealand. But it’s quite a bit more than this . . . A truly extraordinary first novel.’ —Nicholas Reid, NZ Listener
‘. . . absorbing, and on many levels. It’s a book about violence, youth, mythology, history, guilt and love – all set to the agonising rhythm of an inhuman bike race. Some achievement! Fictionalised accounts of sporting events don’t always work, but this has the same feeling of total immersion as I remember feeling when I read David Peace’s The Damned United.’ —Ned Boulting, ITV Journalist and author of How I Won the Yellow Jumper
‘The Invisible Mile is a dream to read, in all senses of the word. It’s a trance-like account of the 1928 Tour de France . . . The writing is fierce, a bravura mix of narcissism, masochism and lyricism grounded in the honesty of the unnamed rider’s journey into his self and the dawning realisation that the race has become a grand metaphor for the trauma of World War I.’ —John Sinclair, Metro
‘Extraordinary . . . the language is exquisite. The novel is absolutely stunning.’ —Mary McCallum, Radio New Zealand Afternoons
‘I think everyone should read this book; it’s a really important book by a New Zealand writer. I’m just overwhelmed by it.’ —Ruth Todd
‘A tour de force . . . written with poetic beauty. The Invisible Mile is an important and impressive début.’ —Steve Walker, Sunday Star-Times
‘In The Invisible Mile, Coventry succeeds in creating a complex, nuanced novel which fundamentally questions our relationship with the histories which shape us, and the ways in which we tell the stories of who we are. At the same time, it is in many ways a classic sporting yarn about grit and determination in the face of a physical and mental test of endurance. A writer in his mid-forties, Coventry seems to have arrived fully-formed in our literary landscape with this fascinating debut.’ —Olivia Macassey, Takahē
‘Coventry invites you back to the 1928 Tour de France, to the horror of the First World War, to the hallucinogen mind of a rider. And you go with him, whether you like it or not, because he forces you. Sport and literature are not natural allies, but are here loved ones in the hands of David Coventry.’ —Bert Wagendorp, bestselling author of Ventoux
‘The stream of consciousness style of writing is almost hypnotic as it compels you to share in the narrator’s ongoing struggle and to witness the slow unveiling of his past life. I’m not bold enough to describe it as unique, lest some more widely read critic names some obscure forerunner. I will instead recommend it as a brilliant tour de force of writing talent and style that richly rewards the reader. I leave it to you to decide whether or not this debut effort immediately places David Coventry among the elite of New Zealand authors.’ —Brian Clearkin, Landfall