The Elfish Gene (Paperback)

Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange

By Mark Barrowcliffe

Soho Press, 9781569476017, 277pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2009

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (11/1/2008)

List Price: 14.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

December 2008 Indie Next List

“Mark Barrowcliffe's memoir of his teenage years playing fantasy role-playing games champions the cause of a widely unacknowledged population of geeks, nerds, and dorks. The Elfish Gene is touching, hilarious, and far too familiar.”
— Bridget Allison, Phoenix Books, Essex, VT
View the List


In the summer of 1976, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had a chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers were being coolly rebellious, Mark and twenty million other boys in the 1970s and 80s chose to spend his adolescence pretending to be a warrior, an evil priest, or a dwarf. He had discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and his life would never be the same. No longer would he have to settle for being Mark Barrowcliffe, an ordinary awkward teenager from working-class Coventry, England; he could be Alf the Elf, Foghat the Gnome, or Effilc Worrab, an elven warrior with the head of a mule. This is an hilarious memoir of an adolescence spent entirely in the world of fantasy.

About the Author

Mark Barrowcliffe worked as a journalist and a stand-up comedian before writing his first hit novel, Girlfriend 44. He has written two other acclaimed comic novels, Lucky Dog and Infidelity for First-Time Fathers. He now lives in Brighton, England.

Praise For The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange

“Funny . . . [Barrowcliffe’s] gently knowing style makes the pain of identification a pleasure.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mark Barrowcliffe’s humorous, self-deprecating memoir of his misspent youth, ‘The Elfish Gene,’ is another welcome addition to the growing ‘nerdsploitation’ genre.”—Associated Press

“Hilarious, unbelievably well-remembered . . . begs a movie adaptation. . . . Barrowcliffe writes . . . with uncommon insight.”—The Seattle Times

“In the best tradition of British humor. . . . Laugh-out-loud funny.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Wonderfully captures the insensitivity, insecurity and selfishness of the adolescent male.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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