Georgina Godwin talks to DBC Pierre, who won the Booker prize with his debut novel ‘Vernon God Little’. He has gone on to write five more books, including his latest: dystopian satire ‘Meanwhile in Dopamine City’. It is a darkly funny, brilliantly clever and utterly terrifying vision of technology in our near future
DBC Pierre is an Australian writer who wrote the novel Vernon God Little. Pierre was born in South Australia in 1961, before moving to Mexico, where he was largely raised.
Ken Follett, international best-selling author and one of the world’s best-loved novelists, joined Reverend Hilary De Lyon (RSM Vice-President) for a lively discussion about his work, including the variety of different kinds of novels he has written, from the longevity and international success of his first novel Eye of the Needle and the later The Pillars of the Earth, to his latest book A Column of Fire; and what inspires him in the creative process of developing exciting plots in many different historical settings. The RSM’s In Conversation Live series offers the opportunity to get first-hand insights into the lives and thoughts of high profile individuals through an intimate, relaxed and entertaining setting, direct to your living room.
Kenneth Martin Follett, CBE, FRSL is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels who has sold more than 160 million copies of his works. Many of his books have achieved high ranking on best seller lists.
In this interview, Peter Boxall answers questions about his new title, The Prosthetic Imagination: A History of the Novel as Artificial Life. If the novel has helped to give our world a human shape, it also contains forms of life that elude our existing human architectures: new amalgams of the living and the non-living that are the hidden province of the novel imagination.
These latent conjunctions, Boxall argues, are preserved in the novel form, and offer us images of embodied being that can help us orient ourselves to our new prosthetic condition.
And with The Mysterious Affair at Styles (published a 100 years ago, in 1920) Christie would introduce readers to Monsieur Hercule Poirot, an old Belgian detective who resembled Holmes superficially (‘eccentric detective, stooge assistant’, as the author would admit in her autobiography later) but whose psychological insights and near-mystical idiosyncrasies would make him arguably the most successful and beloved literary sleuth of all time.
IN 1916, THE 26-year-old Agatha Christie finished writing her first detective novel at Dartmoor, a quiet upland in Devon, UK, known for its beautiful granite hilltops. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had published The Hound of the Baskervilles, in 1902, which would become one of the most widely read Sherlock Holmes adventures—and the story was set in this same corner of the world, Dartmoor.
Books like Murder on the Orient Express (1934), The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and Death on the Nile (1937) remain some of the bestselling murder mysteries in the world today, over eight decades after their original publication (Christie’s net sales for all of her books combined are over two billion now).
Scott discusses his first in a series of essays about American writers, Wallace Stegner, and David Kamp talks about “Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America.”
Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909 – April 13, 1993) was an American novelist, short story writer, environmentalist, and historian, often called “The Dean of Western Writers”. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
Julia Hobsbawm is a writer, speaker, social entrepreneur and strategist whose work focuses on finding solutions for humans in an ever-changing world. She speaks to Georgina Godwin about her latest book, ‘The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World’.
London Review of Books’ John Lanchester talks to Thomas Jones about Georges Simenon, whose output was so prodigious that even he didn’t know how many books he wrote.
Thomas Jones: Hello, and welcome to the London Review of Books podcast. My name is Thomas Jones, and today I’m talking to John Lanchester, who’s written a piece in the current issue of the LRB about Georges Simenon and his 75 Maigret novels, which Penguin have just finished reissuing in new translations. Hello, John.
John Lanchester: Hi Tom. Thanks for having me.
TJ: Thank you for joining me. And I thought we could begin where you begin your piece with Simenon’s ‘colossal output’, as you put it, and that nobody knows how many books he actually wrote, though it was probably more than four hundred, which is fewer than Barbara Cartland, but still puts the rest of us to shame.
JL: He didn’t half crack on, that’s true. Yes, he started as a young man in Liège, his home town in Belgium. And he got a job as a reporter on the local paper. I think he was not quite 16, which is properly strange. It’s like something out of a high concept kid’s TV show, you know, Georges Simenon – Boy Reporter, and very early on latched onto the idea of making money through writing.He began writing when he was 18, his first book came out when he was 19. He started writing every sort of potboiler, thrillers, romances, sort of semi-porn westerns, things like that, at an absolutely astounding rate of productivity. And his target was eighty pages a day, typewritten, and even on the assumption that the pages … I mean, a short page would be 150 words and it could well have been more, but it was 10,000 words a day, and he did that every single day. And then he’d write eighty pages, and then he’d go and be sick. Just from the physical and mental exertion and the strain. That was in the morning. And then he’d recover and do a bit of light reading and pottering about. And then the next day he did the same again, over and over and over for about seven years. And in that period, as you’ve mentioned, we don’t know exactly how many, because he forgot, and he had multiple pseudonyms. The main one being Georges Sim, which was how he was known when he began writing the Simenon novels. People thought that Simenon was a pseudonym because George Sim was so well known, but he seems to have written about 150 or more books in this seven-year burst. It makes you feel peculiar even to think about what that must have been like.
A conversation with the acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin that transports us to two of her favorite cities, Venice and Rome, in a celebration of Italy as the country begins to loosen the longest coronavirus-related lockdown in Europe. The episode features evocative readings from her forthcoming book,Two Cities, which captures the meditative yet constantly surprising nature of travel from a deeply personal point of view.
From acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin comes a deeply personal meditation on two cities, Venice and Rome—each a work of art, both a monument to the past—and on how love and loss shape places and spaces.
Here we encounter a writer deeply engaged with narrative in situ—a traveler moving through beloved streets, sometimes accompanied, sometimes solo. With her, we see, anew, the Venice Biennale, the Lagoon, and San Michele, the island of the dead; the Piazza di Spagna, the Tiber, the view from the Gianicolo; the pigeons at San Marco and the parrots in the Doria Pamphili. As a poet first and foremost, Zarin’s attention to the smallest details, the loveliest gesture, brings Venice and Rome vividly to life for the reader.
The sixteenth book in the expanding, renowned ekphrasis series, Two Cities creates space for these two historic cities to become characters themselves, their relationship to the writer as real as any love affair.
Dedicated to publishing rare, out-of-print, and newly commissioned texts as accessible paperback volumes the ekphrasis series is part of David Zwirner Books’s ongoing effort to publish new and surprising pieces of writing on visual culture.
Cynthia Zarin is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Orbit (2017), as well as five books for children and a collection of essays, An Enlarged Heart: A Personal History (2013). Her honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship for Literature, the Ingram Merrill Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. A longtime contributor to The New Yorker, Zarin teaches at Yale University.
Novelist and art writer Olivia Laing tells Robert Bound about ‘Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency’, her new collection of essays, columns and character studies from the past decade.
Funny Weather brings together a career’s worth of Laing’s writing about art and culture, and their role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Wolfgang Tillmans, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, Funny Weather celebrates art as an antidote to a terrifying political moment.
Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2018 was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. She’s the author of To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City, which has been translated into 17 languages and sold over 100,000 copies worldwide.
Her latest book is Crudo, a real-time novel about the turbulent summer of 2017. It was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and a New York Times notable book of 2018 and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. In 2019 it won the 100th James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Laing’s writing about art & culture appears in the Guardian, Financial Times and frieze, among many other publications.
Her collected essays, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, will be published on 16 April 2020. She’s currently working on Everybody, a book about bodies & freedom.