Date Archives May 2009

Hornsey Library event

Thanks to the kind prompting from May, I am finally getting around to writing about my talk and book signing at Hornsey Library last week. Even though it was my local library, I was a bit worried about how many people would turn up to an event for a little-known first-time author, so I was delighted to see all the seats filled. There was even somebody there from Prospero’s Books, the local independent bookshop that’s been really supportive of me and my book from the beginning. If you’re in north… Read More

Luke Bitmead Award 2009

I was happy to see a call for entries for the Luke Bitmead Writers’ Bursary 2009. Luke wrote an excellent book, White Summer, in 2006, but died only a few months after it was published. His second book, Heading South, co-written with Catherine Richards, was published posthumously. His family then set up a foundation to help other young writers, and award a prize every year to an aspiring novelist. This is the prize that I won last year, leading to the publication of On the Holloway Road. You enter the… Read More

“If on a winter’s night a traveler” by Italo Calvino

Reviewing this book in the New Yorker, John Updike said that it “manages to charm and entertain the reader in the teeth of a scheme designed to frustrate all reasonable readerly intentions.” I don’t think I can put it any better, so you may want to stop reading now. But I’ll put down the rest of my thoughts anyway. The most striking thing about this book is that addresses you, the reader, directly: the opening line is, “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a… Read More

Monday Morning Inspiration #4

If you realise that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve. Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place. When you handle the master carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand. — Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu Please share your own inspirational quotes with me. See week 1 of this feature for details.

“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

I’ve heard good things about this book for ages, ever since it won the Booker Prize back in 2002, but for some reason I always resisted reading it. Perhaps it’s because I tend to prefer books that stay quite close to reality, and the premise of this one – a 16-year-old boy called Pi travels the Pacific in a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger – sounded like the exact opposite. It’s a tall tale, almost deliberately unrealistic. Martel seems to take the absurdity of the premise as a challenge… Read More

New York, New York

I had a wonderful trip to New York. The book-related reasons to go were to sign copies at the Columbia Alumni Book Fair and to give a speech at the Jack Kerouac Literary Group, both of which went very well. Outside of the scheduled events, it was great to spend some time in New York City, where I lived for six years before moving back to the UK in 2006. I managed to catch up with friends from my various incarnations:¬† a corporate banker at Citigroup, a student at Columbia… Read More

Monday Morning Inspiration #3

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. — Dalai Lama Please share your own inspirational quotes with me. See week 1 of this feature for details.