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Longlist author insights - What are you reading at the moment?

Longlist author insights - What are you reading at the moment?

In the second of our author insights, in the run-up to this year's shortlist announcement on 11th September, we find out what the longlisted authors are currently reading.

Nicola Barker: For pleasure I'm reading Divine Mercy in my Soul: The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. She was a humble Polish nun who became Jesus' Secretary. I'm addicted to books written about or especially by Saints. They are one of my great passions. For semi-pleasure I've been helping my partner, Ben Thompson, by reading through the manuscript of his book about the Mary Whitehouse archive. It's called Ban This Filth! and I've revelled in it because I've loved Mary Whitehouse since I was a little girl. In fact the first book I ever bought Ben when we were students together was a book about Whitehouse, so the whole thing has been a revelation and a joy and a privilege. For work I have been reading Barry Reay's Sexuality, Horror and Bodily De-formation in Victorian England. But it hasn't been a chore. It's been a thrill. The subject matter is right up my street, and Reay has such an amazingly fresh and insightful way of looking at things. He's very clever. And he's funny. And the modern cultural references are completely spot on. I'm a huge fan.

Ned Beauman: Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson and Howard Hughes: The Hidden Years by James Phelan.

André Brink: There are usually several books in different stages of undress in and around my bed. At the moment they include Stephen Greenblatt’s wonderful work on the Renaissance, The Swerve while I’m still under the spell of his Will in the World.  And Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré who always finds a reason to be there. And J.G.M. Le Clézio’s Désert is waiting for a reread. And Gene Stratton-Porter’s A Girl of the Limberlost that lit up some bright nostalgic moments in my schooldays 60 years ago. And of course, as always, Don Quixote. And the South African thriller writer Deon Meyer’s latest, Trackers. And Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, which after Wolf Hall no-one can resist.

Tan Twan Eng: I’m re-reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of The Floating World, which I do once or twice every year. I’m also reading Colin Thubron’s elegiac To A Mountain in Tibet, Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies and J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians. I’ve just finished Julia Lovell’s The Opium War, with its fascinating and fresh perspectives on how, among other factors, selective communication and cultural misunderstandings escalated the conflict between England and China into a war.

Michael Frayn: Those very words, with great attention.

Rachel Joyce: Several books at once. One about OCD, one about spiritual trees and Skios by Michael Frayn.

Deborah Levy: I’m catching up on Michel Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory - it won the Prix Goncourt in France and I can see why - it asks all the right questions about the way culture is sold to us. It’s making me laugh out loud and is crazily emotional, despite its dead pan, whining tone.

Hilary Mantel: The World’s Two Smallest Humans, a new poetry collection by Julia Copus.

Alison Moore: I am immersed in Will Self’s Umbrella.

Will Self: Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber, Nostromo by Conrad, Ancient Light by Banville, Berlin Tales by Walser, Not I by Beckett.

Jeet Thayil: J.K. Huysmans’ Against Nature; Dom Moraes: Selected Poems; Elizabeth Bishop’s letters in One Art; the journals of Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India; biographies of Saint Therese and Francis of Assisi for the novel I’m working on; and, for long flights, Jo Nesbo’s alcoholic Harry Hole thrillers.

Sam Thompson: I’ve just finished Alan Garner’s new novel Boneland, which is the third in a trilogy that Garner began 50 years ago with The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. Boneland is an unsettling book, especially if you remember reading the earlier novels as a child.


Image of 2012 Man Booker Prize Longlist