Here, well-known novelists talk about their books and inspirations. Hermione Hoby talks about the literary influence of New York on her and others. Yiyun Li discusses anti-memoir and why she thinks it’s more authentic than the real thing. Ian McEwan and William Boyd talk about the authors that inspired them. Will Self discusses his literary influences and explains why he doesn’t read much fiction.
The writer and journalist Hermione Hoby’s highly acclaimed first novel is set during a New York heatwave. Here she picks five books inspired by this capacious, overstated, indomitable city and discusses how it shaped her as a writer.
La Bibliothèque invisible
by Stéphane Mahieu
Mirabiblia: Catalogo ragionato di libri introvabili
by Paolo Albani & Paolo della Bella
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
by Laurence Sterne
by Alberto Savinio
The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas
by Marguerite Duras
‘I like to show some restraint when it comes to making things up…’ The Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas discusses the role of risk in writing, the ‘crisis of the novel’, and five books that have shaped his own work. (You can also read this interview in the original Spanish.)
Novelist Ian McEwan talks about five of the books that have helped shape his own, from the biography of a scientific genius to a treatise on the end of time, and discusses the importance of finding “mental freedom”
Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son
by Sholem Aleichem
The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories
by Bruno Schultz and Celina Wieniewska (translator)
by James Joyce
Mario and the Magician and Other Stories
by Thomas Mann
History: A Novel
by Elsa Morante and William Weaver (translator)
Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers, on the books that have taken him from childhood to adulthood, the deepening shadow of nuclear war, and why he’ll always be on his knees in front of Emily Dickinson
Aristotle tells us that all politics starts in the family, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the infamously fraught relationship between mother and daughter. Here, the novelist, playwright and poet Deborah Levy chooses five books – or rather, four books and one film – that explore motherhood.
Conventional prose fiction falls short of the mark, says English author Will Self. He tells us about his modernist novel Umbrella, what the real character of London is, and why he can’t stand the Olympics
The author of But Beautiful and Zona tells us about different ways of writing history, and gives us five examples where innovative or experimental approaches have paid off.
The novelist William Boyd tells us about the authors, from Chekhov to Heller, who most influenced his own development as a writer – and reveals the secret to a well-crafted sex scene
When reading books, we often empathize with a main character and find redemption in our emotional response to their fate. But it’s more important to think, says Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon. Here, he picks the best books on ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’