John was born in West Yorkshire, and worked as a cabaret musician before studying English Literature at Cambridge University, followed by a PhD in Language Acquisition at Hull University (UK). He worked as a university lecturer before moving Spain, where he now lives, working as a writer, translator and journalist.
His first published work, the novella ‘Eating Mammals’, won the Paris Review's Discovery (Plimpton) Prize in 2002, and he has gone on to publish fiction and non-fiction with William Morrow and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US; and with 4th Estate and HQ/HarperCollins in the UK. Translations of his work have been published in Russian, Italian, German, Spanish, Galician and Polish.
He also worked with the conceptual artists Goldin+Senneby on the ACEPHALE project (2007-15). His writing for this project has been published variously in English, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Portuguese, and has featured in numerous art shows and galleries around the world, culminating in the novel HEADLESS, based on the project, which was published in 2016 (Triple Canopy, US; Sternberg, Sweden).