Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist

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• 171 submissions • Two Canadian authors • Six authors from the UK • Two writers from Ireland • Three writers representing the USA • Four writers under the age of 30 • Three previous nominees • One previous winner • Four debut novels • Seven women • Six men

The statistics are in. The jury is assembled.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2018 longlist is revealed. Featuring the first-ever nomination for a graphic novel and the electrifying return of a Man Booker grandmaster, the spellbinding search to find the greatest fiction novel of 2018 is on.


Including a work of crime fiction, a noiresque thriller written in verse and a genre-defying graphic novel, the longlist for this year’s award is amongst the most diverse and exhilarating in the prize’s history. Excitingly, it’s also a list that showcases an array of new writing talent. In works that span time and space – from antebellum-era Caribbean to inner-city London and beyond – thirteen authors (the so-called ‘Booker Dozen’) compete for a place on the shortlist, which will be announced on 20 September 2018.

The longlist is:

  • Snap, Belinda Bauer
  • Milkman, Anna Burns
  • Sabrina, Nick Drnaso
  • Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
  • In Our Mad and Furious City, Guy Gunaratne
  • Everything Under, Daisy Johnson
  • The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner
  • The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh
  • Warlight, Michael Ondaatje
  • The Overstory, Richard Powers
  • The Long Take, Robin Robertson
  • Normal People, Sally Rooney
  • From a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal Ryan

The final winner will be announced at a ceremony on 16 October 2018.

You can read the blurb and/or buy a copy of the books by following this link: https://www.waterstones.com/book-awards/the-man-booker-prize

The Perfect Girlfriend: Book Review

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So, I was lucky enough to attend the book launch for my fantastically talented friend, Karen Hamilton, and pick up a copy of her debut.

I have to say, I have just finished it and it didn’t disappoint.

Juliette is troubled and twisted but absolutely determined to get her man. And as the pieces fall into place you find yourself rooting for her. The plans that she chooses to employ get more and more obscene, and yet when you see the world through her eyes they make perfect sense.

Juliette is calculating, obsessive and ruthless in her quest. She wants to succeed, no matter what the cost, which makes for a gripping and enthralling ride. This is one of those books that I couldn’t stop reading, even into the early hours in the morning, because I just had to know what she was going to do next!

Incredibly addictive, I highly recommend this book for thriller fans.

Happy reading!


Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

There’s a new spate of psychological thrillers in town – where things are mixed up a bit and the main protagonists are not all sympathetic characters stuck in an untenable situation – sometimes the main protagonists ARE the untenable situation as is true with Juliette, the star of “The Perfect Girlfriend” – and what a star she is.

Obsessive – Yes. Brilliantly engaging – Yes. Really quite scary – Yes, absolutely! Also occasionally witty, always focused, and actually has a real beef, Nate isn’t exactly the most reliable or the nicest of men. Still, you know, she wants him back and boy will she do absolutely anything to get him.

Follow Karen on Twitter

Purchase The Perfect Girlfriend

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Via: http://lizlovesbooks.com/ones-to-watch-in-2018-the-perfect-girlfriend-karen-hamilton/

Claire Dyer on Research and Imagination | The Literary Sofa

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My lovely friend, Isabel Costello of The Literary Sofa, has been talking to Claire Dyer about her new book The Last Day. Here is what they had to say…


Today I am delighted to welcome the first of my Spring Spotlight guests, poet and novelist Claire Dyer. Her novel The Last Day is published by the independent Dome Press, who appear to have an eye for the magic combination of literary merit and broad appeal.  It is very much my kind of book and in my review at the end you can find out why.  But first let’s hear Claire’s thoughts on something which has always preoccupied writers and fascinated readers: the delicate balance between research and imagination in writing fiction:

I once heard that James Joyce trod the pavements of Dublin to make sure it took precisely thirteen minutes to get from point A to point B so he could represent this faithfully in his writing. Also, Wilkie Collins was known to consult astronomical charts to ensure he had a firm grasp of exactly what kind of moonlight fell on the precise night about which he was writing. In addition I also read somewhere that Audrey Niffenegger carefully researched paper making so she could write authentically about Clare’s work in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

However, authors also make stuff up, and it’s achieving a balance between research and imagination that fascinates me and is the topic I wish to explore whilst I’m here on Isabel’s Literary Sofa.

I too have embarked on many and varied types of research: I’ve done pottery lessons (for The Moment), travelled to Athens (for The Perfect Affair), interviewed carpenters, estate agents, doctors, florists, gardeners, bankers and many more to gain insights into the professions I have chosen for my characters along the way. I’ve also checked out train routes, fashions, newspaper headlines, TV listings, the music hits of the day on the internet; I’ve trawled through photographs, books, stared at Google Maps, sent detailed questionnaires to family and friends both here and in the US and have even stood on Newgale Sands in Pembrokeshire breathing in the salty air to help me prepare for the final scene in one of my books. I’ve visited the London Aquarium, Kew Gardens, the Surrey hills and plumbed deeply personal experiences of birth and death and the many stages in between.

I even visited a medium for a scene in my latest novel, The Last Day, a decision which produced a very surprising result. I went fully prepared to take notes, remain unmoved by anything she said and only think of my character, Honey, while I was there. However, half way through the session, the medium told me my mother, who had died when I was a girl, had arrived and wanted to say something to me. I can’t pretend it wasn’t a shock, one that I’m still coming to terms with, and it made me realise that sometimes the line between research and imagination can get very blurred indeed.

Yet amongst all this fact-finding, my imagination is churning away because in the foreground of all this research are my characters and their stories and it’s for them I have to get it right.

And what if I get it wrong? I remember when researching for the day at the races scene in The Perfect Affair, I looked up which horse had won which race, I studied the notes I’d made when I’d been to the races to remind myself of the small details, like how the tannoy sounds, how the horses skitter to the starting post, the press of bodies, the sweat on the animals’ flanks in the winners’ circle, and yet my scene was set in the 60s and so it was only when I pulled up some photographs on the internet that I realised two very important small details which I nearly missed. The first was that all the men in the pictures were wearing hats and the second was that the majority of the punters were smoking. And so, in my scene, I had my characters take off their hats when they arrive in the function room, which itself fills with the smoke of numerous cigarettes as the day progresses.

What if I deliberately fudge the issue? There have been times when I’ve been less than exact about road names, or the distances between places, or timelines, and also when I’ve used a little bit of artistic licence because to me such facts could be in danger of getting in the way of the all-important story. I do feel guilty about this but, on balance, I believe that it’s best for writers to try and achieve a balance between what’s made up and what’s real so that our readers (and, after all, the reader is the person for whom we are writing) can be immersed in the narrative, lose themselves in the ups and downs of our characters’ lives without worrying too much about whether the weather on the particular day in question was actually sunny or not.

And what is getting it right? Is it this immersion, this losing of oneself in the world of the novel? I think it is. And I guess I’m lucky because at least I can check my facts (if I wish to) whereas others who, for example, write fantasy novels can’t. They make up their worlds, they invent currencies, modes of transport, food, clothes and complete ways of life and I admire them greatly for doing so. I don’t think I ever could. And there are even those who like Laini Taylor blend the real with the imagined. In Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I read recently for BBC Radio Berkshire’s Radio Reads, she seamlessly melds modern-day Prague with a fantastical world of angels and monstrous creatures and gives them all hearts and consciences, hopes and fears. It is a huge achievement and one I admire immensely.

I shall continue to base my stories in this world, whether it be now or ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years ago and I shall do my utmost to mix fact with fiction, the exact with the inexact, research with imagination in the hope that my characters will have room to breathe and a voice with which to tell their stories.

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See the original article, including a review of Claire’s book, The Last Day, here: https://literarysofa.com/2018/03/02/guest-author-claire-dyer-on-research-and-imagination/

And check out more fantastic author interviews and book reviews on Isabel’s blog: the Literary Sofa.

Book Review: ‘Three Things About Elsie’ by Joanna Cannon

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I found this lovely review on Emma’s Bookish Corner, and I simply had to share. I love Joanna Cannon’s work, and was lucky enough to be present in the room when her first novel The Trouble With Goats And Sheep won at a Literary Festival that ultimately landed her an agent. She is an amazing and inspiring person, and I hope you enjoy this beautiful review of her second novel Three Things About Elsie.


THE BOOK

“There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.”

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.


THE REVIEW

“’No matter how long or short a time you are here, the world is ever so slightly different because you existed.’”

Oh, this book, this lovely lovely book. There are books that move us beyond words. Books that set up home in our hearts. Books that make you see the world that little bit differently. Those are the books that are truly special and ‘Three Things About Elsie’ is one of those books. It is a book that is as wonderful to read as it is to look at. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you Joanna Cannon, for bringing Florence, Elsie and Jack into my life!

At the heart of this book is a tale of friendship, the friendship between Florence (who certainly did not buy those twenty-three Battenberg cakes in her cupboard) and Elsie, (who is ‘difficult to clip’ when having her toenails seen to). And also their friendship with General Jack, one of the rare male Cherry Tree residents. These two ladies have literally been best friend’s the whole of their lives and now they are spending their twilight years at Cherry Tree, sheltered accommodation, full of universal beige and with no actual cherry trees.

“We held hands as we climbed hills, as we waited on pavements, and as we ran through fields, as we held hands as we faced all the things in life we didn’t think we could manage alone.”

I love these two ladies, I can picture them perfectly sitting at Flo’s window, watching possibly spying, on the goings-on in the courtyard. When new resident, Gabriel, arrives at Cherry Tree, a ghost from Florence’s past, our intrepid threesome become determined to prove all is not right. The antics these three get up are so entertaining, they are certainly the troublesome, naughty children of Cherry Tree.

All the characters in this book leap from the page, they are so true to life it’s hard to believe they are fiction. During Florence’s story, we also get to hear a little from Miss Ambrose, who is second in command at Cherry Tree and Handy Simon, the handy man. The addition of these chapters really makes the story feel more whole. We get to see life from Flo’s point of view but also from the view of the people who care for her. This book really does show what life is like in care homes, from the residents to the workers to the visitors. It’s all too easy to forget that old people are still people and they have lived and are still living, Joanna Cannon has looked at this important subject with so much heart and sympathy.

“History is littered with people who achieved great things in old age.”

There are so many moments I adored when reading this. My copy is covered with post-its! There are moments where I laughed aloud, many moments when I laughed aloud actually. There are moments I cried. There are moments where I just had to sit and take in what I’d read. Joanna Cannon’s writing is beautiful, I am in awe of her ability to create such wonder with her words.

I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this book, I’ve already read it twice and I know I’ll be reading it again. It is something truly special. How I feel about this book can be summed up in one of my favourite quotes from it “it wasn’t always something you could necessarily put down in words. Words are not always adequate.”

Three Things, for me, is the most perfect of books. So settle into your favourite reading spot, pour a cup of tea, grab a something yummy (I recommend Battenberg, you can’t go wrong with Battenberg) and prepare to read a story that will touch the innermost corners of your heart and meet characters who will become your friends.

BOOKISH CORNER RATING – ALL THE STARS IN THE SKY!!


THE AUTHOR

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. Her first novel ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ was a top ten bestseller in both hardback and paperback. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog – Seth.

‘Three Things About Elsie’ is published in hardback on the 11th January 2018 by Borough Press.

Via: https://emmasbookishcorner.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/book-review-three-things-about-elsie-by-joanna-cannon/

17 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: December 2017

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Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for December 2017:

  1. SMOTHERED BY M.C. HALL

  2. THE DEMON CROWN BY JAMES ROLLINS

  3. THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCÉ BY MORGAN PARKER

  4. THE LOST PRAYERS OF RICKY GRAVES BY JAMES HAN MATTSON

  5. AMERICA’S WOMEN: 400 YEARS OF DOLLS, DRUDGES, HELPMATES, AND HEROINES BY GAIL COLLINS

  6. KING OF SPIES BY BLAINE HARDEN

  7. WHAT WE BUILD UPON THE RUINS BY GIANO CROMLEY

  8. CHASING PORTRAITS BY ELIZABETH RYNECKI
  9. THE FROZEN HOURS BY JEFF SHAARA

  10. DOUBLE FEATURE BY OWEN KING

  11. COLORADO BOULEVARD BY PHOEF SUTTON

  12. THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS: THE UNITED STATES DURING RECONSTRUCTION AND THE GILDED AGE, 1865-1896 BY RICHARD WHITE

  13. A NEGRO AND AN OFAY BY DANNY GARDNER

  14. THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK BY KRISTEN LEPIONKA

  15. THE PLOT IS MURDER BY VM BURNS

  16. ARE YOU SLEEPING BY KATHLEEN BARBER

  17. THINGS THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE BY CHIARA BARZINI

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/12/7/17-books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-december-2017

 

19 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: November 2017

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Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for November 2017:

  1. Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng
  2. The Winter Of Frankie Machine By Don Winslow
  3. Garden Of The Lost And Abandoned By Jessica Yu
  4. In The Distance By Hernan Diaz
  5. Mister Monkey By Francine Prose
  6. Siddhartha By Hermann Hesse
  7. The First Day By Phil Harrison
  8. Vacationland By John Hodgman
  9. Eileen By Ottessa Moshfegh
  10. A Head Full Of Ghosts By Paul Tremblay
  11. Jane Steele By Lyndsay Faye
  12. Sunburn By Laura Lippman
  13. Little Deaths By Emma Flint
  14. The Castle By Jason Pinter
  15. Under The Harrow By Flynn Berry
  16. The Cutaway By Christina Kovac
  17. Titus: The Life Story Of Dr. Plomaritis by Dr. Titus Plomaritis
  18. Strange Weather By Joe Hill

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/11/8/18-books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-november-2017

 

Author Interview: Tor Udall

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Today on Writers Blog, an author interview from Tor Udell about her debut novel A Thousand Paper Birds, which took six years and eight drafts to bring to publication – proving there is hope for the rest of us yet! A delightful interview, and a novel I will be picking up in the bookstore.

About the Author

Tor Udall studied theatre and film before co-founding a dance-theatre company. She spent most of her twenties directing, writing and performing. She lives in London with her husband and young children. @TorUdall

A Thousand Paper Birds is her first novel and is an intimate portrait of five inextricably linked lives, spanning one calendar year at Kew Gardens. After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life. Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall. Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed? Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth. Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.

The Interview

A Thousand Paper Birds is your first novel but with your career in dance and theatre, I wonder if perhaps storytelling is in your blood?

I think ‘creating experiences’ is in my blood. Capturing a mood, a glance, a moment. Having come from a dance background, which is all about communicating a feeling, the things unsaid, the push-pull of an encounter, I had to work hard to move away from a series of images and sensations to something with more narrative drive. I could, however, fall back on my theatre years to explore character motivations, the importance of an arc. I think, primarily, it is imagination that has been my fuel and anchor. Imagining different worlds, the infinite possibilities. Trying to make the familiar unfamiliar.

 

How long has this story lived with you?

It started in 2003 when I first moved to Kew and began jotting down notes about the Gardens. I was working on a different novel at the time so didn’t take much notice. Over the years, different threads began to form – including origami and the question, ‘Who is Harry Barclay?’. I was always struck by the abundance of life in Kew in juxtaposition with the commemorative benches. All those dead people who had ‘loved spending time in this garden’ only made me more aware of the beauty of the place and how fleeting the moment. This rub of death and life began to fascinate me. I started writing the novel in 2009 and it took six years and eight drafts before it reached Bloomsbury.

 

Loss and grief are central themes of the story, and your writing doesn’t shy away from the sensitive subjects of suicide and miscarriage. There’s a beautiful line where Jonah feels he ‘is clutching a newborn child, holding the exact weight of hope in his arms.’ Were you conscious of speaking about grief that is often kept hidden?

Yes. I suffered recurrent miscarriages between my first and second child, so I felt qualified to explore this difficult and often unspoken subject. Grief for an unborn child is real and yet intangible. I’m always interested in exploring the things that are in the mist, that you can only see the vague shape of – perhaps an outline here or there, the rest erased, amorphous. So I wanted to see if I could bring that yearning into being.

A close friend committed suicide when we were in our late twenties. It’s one of those things that leaves its mark on you and it turned up in my writing, unbidden. I think many of us have had some whimsical notion of suicide at some point – but I think there’s a huge chasm between thinking it and doing it. I’m really interested in what that is. The space between.

I have also witnessed friends die of terminal illness – and I’m interested in the grief of a dying person. I remember a day when there was a sudden downpour – a proper, constant dousing – and my neighbour, who knew he didn’t have long, walked out of his house with his umbrella and stood in the middle of the road just taking it all in. How do you say goodbye to that last rainfall? I think one thing the book tries to do is stretch that final moment. If I could press pause between my penultimate heartbeat and my last, what would my thoughts be?

 

The book remains hopeful, the idea of redemption ever-present – perhaps because the setting at Kew Gardens is so beautiful. Did you always know you wanted to set A Thousand Paper Birds there?

Yes. Kew always came first. I was living in a bedsit near the Gardens with only two windows that were so high I couldn’t see out of them. So if I had writing time, I would take myself off to Kew and set up my ‘office’ – which was always one particular bench by the lake. Eventually this became Audrey’s bench. If the weather was dreadful, I would seek refuge in the Palm House and perch on the hot pipes, surrounded by banana trees and palms. In later drafts, I would write in different locations depending on which character’s storyline I was working on; each character has a particular place that resonates.

 

The rhythm of the book was another source of joy for me; could you tell us a little about the structure and timespan the book is set over?

As a dancer, rhythm is vital to me: the rhythm of the sentences, the words, the chapter. It is important to me where the comma is, the dash. It’s Fred Astaire in a graceful spin, his arms wheeling, then a pause – oh, how important the pause is – before he stamps, shuffles, stamps again. Writing IS a dance.

As for the structure, I was weaving two timelines and five character perspectives. At first I worked in narrative order, then in deeper drafts I took the thread of just one or two characters and worked them from beginning to end, just polishing that particular arc. Then in the next draft I would braid them together again, checking the juxtapositions, the pace … and yes, most importantly, the rhythm.

 

Kew felt like a character in its own right, as did the origami cranes Chloe creates almost compulsively. What are your thoughts about the therapeutic properties of art and nature?

Both art and nature are sustenance to me. At an early age, I learnt from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden that nature has the power to transform. We enter a garden, and if we let it enter us, we leave changed. Ditto for woods, oceans, mountains – even a daisy in the crack of a pavement. It can totally shift my day.

The same is true with art. Many books have saved me. Music has lifted and consoled me. I have stood in front of a particular painting for hours, unable to leave. Often I don’t know why – just that it is making my soul itch. Dance has a profound impact. It touches on things we have no words for. It always breaks me and makes me bigger.

Fusing these two themes, I was interested in how humans strive to create and yet are systematically destroying the most creative thing of all: nature. Harry’s job is to save species from extinction. I’m dumbfounded by the vast variety of Kew’s flora. It’s enough to make you believe in a vast, divine imagination – but perhaps that creativity is coming from the seed itself, the atom. I’m curious about the urge to create that is in every living thing – the bud pushing through the soil, the ambition of a tree to birth an apple. In all of us there’s a striving to create, to be the fullest we can be.

 

I’ve been inspired to try and learn how to make paper birds by your book; are you a dab hand at origami yourself?

Sadly, no. I can do a few birds well. A couple of boxes. But it’s not necessarily about a big repertoire of models, but repeating the same bird again and again. There’s something very meditative about the process. But beyond my dabbling, there’s a whole world out there of origami masters making the most extraordinary things. Scientists use origami to solve mathematical equations. Leonardo Da Vinci, Houdini – many of the big thinkers have been enthralled by its mysteries and symmetries.

I love how many things can be created from a single square. How often can I unfold and refold the paper, changing it from a bird to a boat, a kimono, before the paper frays or tears? This was a metaphor for the writing process: how far can I push the form, fold in the different perspectives, and, particularly, how much can I crease the genres before something rips?

One of the best things about the book coming out is people telling me stories about origami birds being scattered in bookshops, left on trains, stranded at bus stops. People are picking up litter – a ticket, a chewing gum wrapper – and folding it into a gift for the next stranger … and the next. It’s a tiny act of resistance that says, despite everything, I still believe in beauty, in small gestures of kindness. A Chinese whisper.

 

As a destroyer of books myself, one of my favourite scenes is that between Harry and Audrey where they talk about books bearing the imprint of their readers – corners turned, pages smudged, words underlined.  Are you a careful or careless handler of books?

When I was a child, Roald Dahl signed a book for me. My copy had felt tip drawings in the margins, silly faces, doodles. He was charmed by it, saying the book had been well-loved, well lived-in. I won’t fold corners to mark my place – partly because I love matching books with bookmarks, but I will turn down pages to flag a favourite phrase. I underline often. I even scribble in the margins. Perhaps something I’ve read has set off a new thought about my characters, or a scene, so I’ll just begin to riff. It becomes a dialogue.

I particularly love holiday books. The ones that come back double the thickness because they’re bloated with sea water – or perhaps there’s sand in the seams, or an unspecified flower pressed between the pages. There may be dirt from a rickshaw. A squashed bug. My holiday has become part of the book – its story.

Some people might judge it as careless. But I believe the biggest compliment I can give a writer is to show them my copy of their book, all the corners turned, sentences underlined. Look. This is how much I loved this. This is how much I lived it. This is how much I cared.