Alumni Authors

As a celebration of our alumni, each month we will highlight a new book written by one of Oxford's North American-based alumni.
For August 2017, our author is Gabriel Packard (Hertford, 1999).

Gabriel Packard is the associate director of the Creative Writing MFA Program at Hunter College in New York City, where he also teaches novel-writing to undergraduates. He has previously worked as a researcher for the novelists E.L. Doctorow, Jonathan Franzen and Peter Carey. He is a graduate of Hertford College, Oxford, where he got a BA in English Language and Literature. The Painted Ocean, published by Corsair/Little, Brown is his debut novel. It was included in W.H. Smith’s Fresh Talent series in the U.K. and also received a K. Blundell Trust Award. National Book Award-winner Colum McCann has called it “a fearless tour de force” and called Gabriel Packard “a major new literary talent.”

Praise for The Painted Ocean:

ABC Radio

"Gabriel Packard's novel, The Painted Ocean, is an assured debut, written in the voice of a young British Asian woman, Shruti. The novel works as a gripping thriller, but Shruti's experience of exploitation and enslavement is also an allegory of a globalised world where forced labour is an all too common reality." "It is a literary page-turner." "In Gabriel Packard's debut novel, Lord of the Flies gets a fierce post-colonial, globalised twist." "It's a literary thriller partially set on an isolated island in the Indian Ocean, and it focuses on the story of Shruti. The story is shadowed by themes of slavery and forced migration. "


The Sunday Star-Times

"Book clubs will be in meltdown over this first novel by UK author and creative writing lecturer Gabriel Packard... Undoubtedly, there will be fireworks. Brick Lane meets Lord of the Flies is one description, but you can also throw in a bit of The Island, only with fewer people. At the heart of the book there's a tale of childhood abandonment, bullying and a need to be loved..." "[Gabriel Packard is] an author who writes very well..."


The Australian Way Magazine

"The novel from the respected Hunter College (New York) associate director of creative writing -- who has done research for Jonathan Franzen and Peter Carey -- is one impressive debut. Reminiscent of Dickens in its dramatic scope and descriptive passion, with obvious (favourable) comparisons to Monica Ali's Brick Lane, The Painted Ocean is about surviving as an Indian migrant in England... Shruti's subsequent adventures stray onto Lord of the Flies turf. The writing is rich and immediate, compelling in its intensity. The pages seem to turn themselves." [IQ]


Order The Painted Ocean now:


Are you an alumni author?

If you have written a book which was published within the last three years, or is due to be released soon, please email us the following information.

Your full name
Alumni number (or college/year of matriculation)
Title of book
Date of publication
Link to purchase the book online

We thank you for sharing your books with us, and will let you know if you are selected for a feature in the coming months.

Overhead view of Radcliffe Camera and adjacent colleges