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How to Read a Novelist

"If fiction has any value, it’s that it lets us in. You and I can be pleasant to each other, but I will never know what you really think, and you will never know what I am thinking. I know nothing about what it’s like to be you. As far as I can tell, whether it is avant-garde or realistic, the basic engine of narrative art is how it punctures those membranes a little."
                        - David Foster Wallace

Whether you are a writer or a reader or both, this collection of conversations with novelists invites you in.  As a critic for more than two hundred newspapers worldwide and the former editor of Granta, John Freeman has reviewed thousands of books and interviewed scores of writers.  In How to Read a Novelist, he pulls together his very best profiles; from international stars such as Doris Lessing, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie, and Mo Yan, to American writers such as Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson and John Updike to the new guard of Edwidge Danticat, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen, and more.

As Freeman notes in his introduction, these short profiles do not necessarily offer specific instruction in the writer’s craft but rather serve to “reinstate some atmospheric context into the legend of a writer’s life and work.”  His conversations are encounters with writers that “are not meant to be definitive life profiles but rather glimpses spied through a moving window.”  Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this collection is that it is an invitation to read, or reread, some of the great novelists of our time.