WHAT BOOK would novelist Sebastian Faulks take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would novelist Sebastian Faulks take to a desert island?

  • Sebastian Faulks is currently reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers
  • Would take Marcel Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past to a desert island 
  • Novelist says Alistair MacLean’s thrillers first gave him the reading bug 

. . . are you reading now?

Bewilderment by Richard Powers. It’s a Booker long-listed novel due out soon which tells the story of a scientist who examines the possibility of life on planets and in universes other than our own and

his relationship with his troubled nine-year-old son.

Powers has the rare gift of being able to deal with big ideas while keeping you interested in the lives and emotions of his characters.

I have recently finished Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, an American journalist, which follows half a dozen prominent IRA members through the years of The Troubles.

Sebastian Faulks (pictured) would take Marcel Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past to a desert island

I thought I could never read another word about these dismal events, but Keefe’s book, while meticulous and well-researched, reads like a thriller, with great human interest and drama. It even has a twist in the tail.

. . . would you take to a desert island?

I would be tempted to take Marcel Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past, because it’s so long and would keep me going.

Also, although I’ve read much of it, and some of it many times, I’ve never got through the whole thing sequentially. It might be better, though, to take some poetry. And if I had to choose, I would probably go for The Complete T.S. Eliot.

But it would be with a pang that I would leave behind Donne, Wordsworth or Larkin. And what would life be like without Dickens? David Copperfield? Great Expectations?

A difficult question.

. . . first gave you the reading bug?

As a child, it was adventures, I suppose. I loved Alistair MacLean’s thrillers, Ice Station Zebra, Night Without End, HMS Ulysses.

Then came Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, which I still enjoy.

The first grown-up book I read was Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, followed by Sons And Lovers by D.H. Lawrence.

After that, the flood gates were pretty much open.

. . . left you cold?

I have never quite understood the appeal of ‘travel books’. I love getting to know a place through the eyes of a writer, in the novels of Joseph Conrad or Somerset Maugham or Graham Greene, for instance.

Or reading a non-fiction account of someone living somewhere for a particular purpose, such as Norman Lewis’s diary of his life as an intelligence officer in Naples ’44.

But I can’t see the point of someone telling you who got into his railway carriage and what the town looked like before he moved on to the next town, which was pretty much the same as the last one and where nothing much happened.

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks is published by Hutchinson, £20.

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