Date Archives July 2011

Booker longlist

Here are the 13 longlisted books for this year’s Man Booker Prize: Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape – Random House) Sebastian Barry On Canaan’s Side (Faber) Carol Birch Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate Books) Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta) Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail – Profile) Yvvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld) Alan… Read More

Apocalypse

I like it when fiction writers have something to say about the world. I mean the real world, beyond the world of books. Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, wrote an excellent article in the Boston Review recently about natural disasters, focusing particularly on the earthquake in Haiti. It’s rare to read something fresh about… Read More

The ingredients of fiction

Writing fiction is not really about making stuff up. It’s more about making sense of what you already have stored somewhere in your memory or subconscious, dusting it off, ordering it and making it intelligible to the rest of the world. The hope is that the things you write about will also resonate with other people, not by teaching them… Read More

“Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia is many books in one. It is a piece of journalism – Orwell initially went to Spain in the 1930s to report on the Spanish Civil War. It is also a war memoir, because Orwell was immediately convinced that enlisting in the fight against fascism rather than merely writing about it was the only honourable course of… Read More

And the winner is…

I had an interesting experience tonight at the launch of Alex Wheatle’s new book Brenton Brown at Brixton Library. There was a speech by the author, a Q&A, then an excellent reading by the actress Adjoa Andoh, and then a raffle for two CDs of Alex’s music and a copy of the book. And for once, I won! Nice experience… Read More

“Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal

The narrator of Too Loud a Solitude is an idiot. His boss despises him, others laugh at him. He drinks beer all day, and works in a cellar compacting wastepaper. He has been compacting wastepaper in the same cellar with the same hydraulic press for 35 years, and has picked out classics of world literature from the garbage, amassing a… Read More