Submitted by Man Booker Prize on Wed, 2018-09-19 13:50
What’s it like making the longlist again?
Something about this list of 13 books makes the nomination especially satisfying. The selection is bold and wide-ranging, with several distinctive debuts. It’s a joy to appear alongside so many younger, vital writers, not to mention one seasoned luminary who has awed me for decades.
What inspired the novel?
I was hiking in California’s Santa Cruz mountains under the second-growth redwoods when I came across an ancient tree that had somehow avoided the saw. It was as wide as a house, as tall as a football pitch is long, and as old as King Arthur. When I learned that redwoods that size and age were still being felled, it put both my writing and my life on a radically different course.
You’ve written books in many different genres. Is there one genre that you are drawn to the most?
I am compelled by the “scientific romance”—works that manage to set the beauty and sweep of some large-scale, non-human drama against more familiar and local human urgencies. (A new and wonderful addition to this genre will appear this fall—Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered.)
Favourite Man Booker-winning novel?
What sadist wants me to answer this question? Rushdie, Carey, Byatt, Coetzee, Barnes, Saunders, Ishiguro, Atwood, etc., etc.—and I’m supposed to be a good consumer and pick just one? I’m grateful to dozens, but let me at least mention John Berger’s G., which helped spark my own first novel, a third of a century ago.
What are you working on next?
A machine for putting one person directly into the head of another.