Submitted by Leah on Mon, 2014-09-08 14:48
In our final longlist author interview we speak to Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others
What has it been like to be longlisted?
A bit stunning, in the true sense of the word, followed before long by a strange mixture of joy and anxiety which still persists. The mixture is in unstable equilibrium.
What are you working on next?
Will you please forgive me if I don’t answer this question? I’m superstitious about talking about work-in-progress …
What are you reading at the moment?
Acceptance, the final volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s astounding Southern Reach Trilogy. Last Friends, the final volume of Jane Gardam’s ‘Old Filth’ trilogy. Sugar Skull, the last volume in Charles Burns’ sick and brilliant ‘X’ed Out’ trilogy. (Do you see a theme emerging here?) Ali Smith’s How To Be Both, a standalone novel, which is not part of a trilogy, is up next.
What is your favourite Man Booker-winning novel?
Oh, come on, you can’t ask me to name one! Off the top of my head: Oscar and Lucinda; Possession; In A Free State; Life and Times of Michael K.; Disgrace.
In a review of The Lives of Others A.S. Byatt commented (approvingly) that “there is no authorial voice”. Was this something you had to work on with a novel that contains so many characters?
There is an authorial voice, of course, -- all novels have an authorial voice -- but my interpretation of what Byatt was saying is that this voice is kept as unobtrusive and as invisible as possible. And she’s absolutely correct: I tried to sail very close to the characters’ points-of-view. When you’re trying to do that, a multitude of characters is actually a great help rather than a knotty problem, as long as you know your characters well …