Writing On Literature

  • There's something odd about the proverbial 'don't judge a book by its cover'. The saying implies that book covers were once a byword for rubbish design, and consistently misrepresented the content or quality of the book inside. Or perhaps the saying dates from the days before design, and means don't expect every story to be leathery and monochrome. I don't know. What I do know is that writers have difficult relationships with their covers. Partly this is because the covers are using a visual language in which the writer may not be literate - I may have written a paragraph about an important tree, but on the cover it's just a tree. It is brown. What is a potential

    Jul 11,
  • So far Lazarus is Dead has been reviewed in the Financial Times, The Spectator, The Eastern Daily Press, The Times Literary Supplement, The Glasgow Herald, The Sunday Times, The Catholic Herald, Sunday Business Post (Ireland), The Times and The Observer. Not everyone is entirely with the programme, but then a book that pleased everyone wouldn't be a book by me. Also, there's a writing truism that a bad review is better than none at all. From experience, I can attest that this is so (when the wounds begin to heal). Standard practice at this point is to extract the best bits of these reviews to give the impression of unanimous praise. Or in a different mood I could do quite

    Sep 11,
  • There was an extract from Lazarus is Dead in the July edition of Prospect magazine. When the magazine decided to run the extract this was their first question (as it had been the first question of an American publisher): are you a Christian? Admittedly, this story is a departure for me. The book is set in first-century Israel and although the structure is unusual (as readers of the earlier novels might expect) the book really is set in first-century Israel. Really. Most of it. The novel tells the story of how the bible-character Lazarus became ill, and his first death is at the physical centre of the book; the second half tells the story of what happens after he comes

    Aug 08,
  • My new novel, Lazarus is Dead, is due out on August 18. That's seven years since Dry Bones. What have I been doing? The non-fiction, the stories, the living. But it's not living that eats up the time, it's writing novels. In 2004, when Dry Bones came out, Harvill Secker was Secker and Warburg, and I didn't have a website. This time round there are suddenly things to do. I should add something about Lazarus to the books pages here, and I will. I should keep track of what Harvill Secker are doing over at Vauxhall Bridge Road. This is what they're doing first. The publication of Lazarus is seven weeks away, and once a week until then the Vintage

    Jul 14,