Prufrock's Page

Friday, October 13, 2006

Snow White, Nancy Drew And Billie Holiday...

...are among Lorrie Moore's influences.

Auster On Auster

Deborah Friedell unflatteringly calls Paul Auster's new novel nothing but a homage to all his earlier work. Sometimes, the postmodern hall of mirrors reflects...nothing.

Indian Chutney

"Some 200 years before Zadie Smith, Monica Ali and Hari Kunzru all made it into the bestseller lists, and multiculturalism became a buzzword capable of waking Norman Tebbit and the Tory undead from their coffins at party conferences, the India of the East India Company was an infinitely more culturally, racially and religiously chutnified place than the most mixed areas of London today."

- William Dalrymple introduces The Last Mughal.

Answers: Yes. And Yes.

Do you find yourself lingering just that few extra minutes in book shops, with a faraway look in your eyes, long after everyone else is ready to go?

Do the people you are with seem to have to drag you away after you have promised to stay in your favorite book haunt just “five minutes more?”

Well, All Right, But Next Time It Better Be Roth

One's first reaction upon hearing that Pamuk was the literature laureate was that he'd received it very young. He is, however, 54 -- and Rudyard Kipling remains the youngest to win the prize, at 42.

(Is it only literary merit, or politics as well, asks this piece.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another Indian Author

More grist to the mills of the newspapers here who're gleefully crowing over the Booker being awarded to an Indian: there's another book, by another Indian, that's just been named a non-fiction finalist in the US National Book Awards. It's Rajeev Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City, one more book on America's misadventure in Iraq. Publishers Weekly says: "As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace." (Official website with review extracts here.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Novel In The Age Of The Net

"Can written narratives represent this world? Can they convey what it feels like to inhabit it? The movies, of course, have given up trying. The best they can do in order to travel the hidden channels through which fate conducts itself these days is cut back and forth between shots of people on phones or show someone typing on a keyboard and then display what's appearing on the monitor. Novelists, with their access to the invisible, ought to be positioned to do better. How, though?"

- Walter Kirn sends an e-mail to Gary Shteyngart

My Goodness

It's Kiran Desai.

Which is an appropriate time to point out that her mother ought to have won it in 1984 for In Custody.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Two Ways Of Looking At Philip Roth

"I don't hate Philip Roth, I like Philip Roth. But sometimes a story needs to be told from a different perspective. Something about men is that they're able to find their own attractiveness long past its actuality. That's nice. I wish women felt the same way. It would be nice seeing older women winking at 20-year-old men."

- Zadie Smith

"Philip Roth in my view is the most significant writer of fiction in English right now and in a way his themes, about misplaced idealism and idealism gone wrong, make him a prime candidate [for the Nobel]."

- Ian Jack

An Interrogation Of The Arabian Nights

"...there is a silence in the tale that cries out to be spoken of. Beneath the glittering sea of fabulous words lies hidden, like a drowned city, a great psychological novel: the grand, perverse and profound love story, the mystery of Scheherazade and her Shahryar."

- From Salman Rushdie's text for sculptor Anish Kapur's latest work.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What's The Best Novel Of The Last 25 Years?

The New York Times started it. And now, The Guardian surveys those on the other side of the Atlantic.

In Black And White

Michael Dibdin, accomplished murder mystery author himself, finds much to praise in Benjamin Black's Christine Falls: "It would be absurd to suggest that Banville writing as Black is better than Banville writing as Banville, but in a different and yet fascinatingly similar way he is every bit as good, and deserves to win a new, broader readership with this fine book."

In The Independent, Banville speaks of the genesis of the novel: "It was quite simple. About three years ago I began to read Georges Simenon, not the Maigret novels but the non-formulaic books, his hard novels, and I wanted to try and see if I could write that sort of thing in that simple, direct style. I had a TV script which wasn't going anywhere. But when I decided that it should become a novel every single line of dialogue had to be changed. When you write dialogue for a script you have to do in a very flat way, to allow the director and the actors to do their stuff. But when it's a novel that's all there is: the words on the page."