Date Archives June 2011

Tomorrow Pamplona Blog Tour 2011, Gig 12

Dutch author Jan van Mersbergen is on a blog tour to promote his new book Tomorrow Pamplona, visiting a different literary blog each day and answering one question on each site. Today he visits my blog, and I asked him the following question:   Q: According to Peirene’s reading guide, you’re renowned for creating silent characters like Danny. Could you talk about why you do this, and what sort of effect you hope to create by having the main character speak so little? Here’s Jan’s answer:   This also caught… Read More

Summer reads

Nice list of summer reads posted by largeheartedboy, linking to all the “books you must read this summer” lists. I like lists, so a list of lists is even better. It’s a US-centred list – wonder if someone has done a similar roundup of recommendations from UK newspapers and reviews. Maybe I should do it myself… Here’s one to get things started anyway: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-50-best-summer-reads-2003160.html As for my summer reading, I’m not much of a planner, but I do have “C” by Tom McCarthy at the top of my list. Or I… Read More

RIP Brian Haw

Was saddened this week to hear of the death of peace activist Brian Haw. There are not too many people in these times who live completely honest lives. We may have our opinions about the way we’d like things to be, but we hide them, or express them timidly. Rather than speaking generally, let me be specific. I am ashamed of hiding my opinions, or only expressing them timidly. I am ashamed that, although I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I merely went on a few marches, and… Read More

In conversation with Preeta Samarasan

I spoke recently with Malaysian writer Preeta Samarasan, and am posting the conversation up here for you to listen to. In part 1, we chatted about her novel Evening is the Whole Day. Preeta gave some fascinating insights into the process of writing the novel and how it evolved over time, as well as talking about the unpredictable effects of children coming into contact with the adult world, and the things she wanted to say about Malaysian society. She also talked about her influences, from ancient Tamil poetry to books… Read More

“Irma Voth” by Miriam Toews

I enjoyed this tale of a young Mennonite girl marooned on a claustrophobic family compound in rural Mexico. At 19 she has already been through a lot, marrying a non-Mennonite Mexican guy called Jorge and getting ostracised by her family as a result, then being abandoned by Jorge. That’s before the novel even begins. As it progresses, she gets involved with a film crew who have rented the neighbouring house to shoot a movie, steals and sells drugs, and runs away to Mexico City with her younger sister Aggie and… Read More

Questions for Preeta Samarasan?

I am interviewing Preeta Samarasan this week, author of Evening is the Whole Day. If there are any questions you’d like me to ask her, please post them here as a comment, or you can email me if you prefer. No limit on the number of questions, but I’d need to receive them by end of day Monday. I’m hoping to make interviews with other writers a regular feature of this site, so please also let me know who you’d like me to interview next. And look out for my… Read More

“Tomorrow Pamplona” by Jan van Mersbergen

A road trip taken by two men across Europe to the bull-running at Pamplona. The set-up appealed to me: it’s quite similar to my own novel, with two men on a road trip, exploring the strange relationship between them and the mutual search for something more than what they have. The characters are quite different from mine, though. They start as strangers: Robert picks up Danny outside a service station and offers him a lift. Despite Robert’s best attempts to get inside Danny’s head, they really remain strangers right to… Read More

Best reading/writing sites

Kinga at the Book Snob has a great post listing the 21 best sites about reading and writing. Along with well-known ones like Goodreads and London Review of Books, there are some that were new to me and look very interesting, like The Believer. The post also made me realise how many places there are to indulge in reading about reading or reading about writing, rather than actually reading and writing the books themselves. I probably do too much of that myself, but it didn’t stop me from checking out… Read More