En Bref – an interview with Shakespeare & Co

Shakespeare & Co: Welcome to the first installment of En Bref, a new series we’re launching especially for Le Blog, featuring mini bookish interviews with authors we love—and have managed to persuade to answer our questions!

Who is your favourite novelist of all time?

George Orwell. His books have such a sense of purpose and he refuses to hide behind style—something you only have the confidence to do if you are a true craftsman.

What is your favourite sentence from any book ever?

If it were now to die,
’twere now to be most happy, for I fear
my soul hath her content so absolute
that not another comfort like to this
succeeds in unknown fate.

Othello (Act 2, Scene 1)

What is your favourite comfort read?

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Underlying its funny, bonkers plot there’s something intensely melancholy: at its heart are characters with a simple desire to be loved and understood in a world of malevolent bureaucracy. Which is pretty much how I feel when queueing at the bank.

If you could require the leader of your country to read one book, what would it be?

Collapse by Jared Diamond. It calmly and carefully shows how societies fail or succeed based on how well they manage their ecological resources. Basically, throughout history, whenever a society puts too much strain on its environment, everyone dies. So…

What is next on your to read pile?

I have about ten half-read books to finish first! After How to be Both by Ali Smith and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, I’m going to read The Nearest Thing to Life by James Wood, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, and The Honours by Tim Clare.

First published on Le Blog of Shakespeare & Co