WHAT BOOK would author Nathan Harris take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would booker-longlisted author Nathan Harris take to a desert island?

  • Nathan Harris is currently reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  • Booker-longlisted author would take Tolstoy’s War And Peace to a desert island
  • The ‘beautiful prose’ of The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard left him feeling cold

Are you reading now? 

Deacon King Kong by James McBride. Rare is the author so skilled at depicting the racial struggles of a country while also maintaining such a consistent register of laugh-inducing comedy with nearly every word. 

McBride has always been one of my favourite authors and this novel lives up to his high standard. I’ve also just finished At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop. I will say that one has a different tone. 

Nathan Harris (pictured) is currently reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride. Booker-longlisted author would take Tolstoy’s War And Peace to a desert island

Quite dark. But when you can have different books going at once, both singing in a different pitch, they don’t typically clash for me. I love the inward thrill of going from a book that makes me giggle, to one that makes my eyes go wide in horror. Both experiences make for a delightful read. (Diop’s novel is excellent, for the record.)

Would you take to a desert island? 

I haven’t yet had a chance to read War And Peace, so I’ll go with Tolstoy’s classic. I imagine I could limit myself to a few pages each day, savouring the complex network of characters, plotting, and themes that have brought so many readers to the novel over the years. 

If I’m enjoying it, which I’m sure I would, I’d be perfectly fine with my rescuers waiting a few days to retrieve me. Perhaps they can air drop me some ingredients for a Pina Colada? Sounds like a lovely vacation, all in all! 

First gave you the reading bug? 

Nathan has a tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull. He says The Story Of Ferdinand gave him the reading bug 

I have a tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull so any answer other than The Story Of Ferdinand seems wrong here. The themes are timeless. The striving for a peaceful life, the depiction of how damaging it can be to cause undue harm to others who are minding their own business. 

When all’s said and done, don’t we all just want the freedom to be left alone with our day, smelling flowers? I sure do. 

Also, the illustrations are lovely. But I might be biased, considering the tattoo and all. I can’t really go back on that opinion.

Left you cold? 

The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard. Beautiful prose, but every page put me nearer and nearer to sleep. But that’s the beauty of literature, isn’t it? 

There is something rewarding, even engaging, in reading a novel that might not be for you, but works to better help you cultivate your taste if only by showing you what isn’t to your liking. And who knows, perhaps I’ll return to it in 20 years and kick myself for writing any of this. Books have a funny way of hitting you differently as time marches on. It’s one the great wonders of a life spent reading. 

  • The Sweetness Of Water by Nathan Harris (published by Tinder Press £8.99) is available now.

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