Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
All Novels Are Spy Novels: Ian McEwan Talks ‘Sweet Tooth’ and His Life
Nov 15, 2012
Ian McEwan’s new novel, Sweet Tooth, is full of references to his own life and the Britain of his youth. Maya Jaggi talks spies, finding happiness, and his dark early work with the acclaimed novelist.
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In a London taxicab en route to this interview, Ian McEwan watched a cyclist fall headlong from his bike, and as many as 30 people converge on the dazed young man with east Asian features. In any early story by the British writer formerly dubbed “Ian McAbre” for his dark mastery of dread and suspense, this scene could have ended in apocalypse. As the novelist reflects now, “passing strangers might have seized what he had, driven by hunger. When there’s social breakdown, the strong become warlords and the weak go to the wall.”
Instead, many hands helped the youth to his feet in a moment that touched a witness still basking in London’s Olympic afterglow. “I felt a ballooning sense of love for this city—any city,” McEwan tells me over a latte in the Renaissance hotel at St. Pancras station, its neo-gothic architecture an echo of his virtuoso early fiction. “I want to live in a place where strangers rush to help someone in distress. For it to work, for them not to be cynical, there has to be freedom for individuals and a social contract.”