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Anna Smaill - Longlist author interview

Anna Smaill - Longlist author interview

In the latest in our series of interviews with Man Booker Prize 2015 longlisted authors, we speak to Anna Smaill author of The Chimes,

What has it been like to be longlisted?

It has been an experience of great incredulity and excitement. I hardly believed it when I first heard the news and now that I’ve had time to digest I still find it quite difficult to believe. One of the most exciting elements has been buying and beginning to read the other books on the longlist. My pleasure and honour at being in a list with these writers is immense.

What are you working on next?

I’m in the very early stages of writing a new novel that is set in Tokyo and loosely based around Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. It will also, I hope, contain a plausible underworld of magic: trapdoors of power and secrecy and otherworldliness beneath the recognisable city.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading Sean Michael’s novel Us Conductors in advance of appearing on a panel with him in Edinburgh soon. It is about the invention of the theremin, and it’s fascinating and incredibly well executed.

What is your favourite Man Booker-winning novel?

I have a very soft spot for the 1992 co-winner: Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. I first read it when I was sixteen and was completely carried away by its scope and beauty. I find many of the novel’s brilliant images – that dropped fork at the very end, for example – still often come back to me.

The Chimes is, in part, about music and you yourself are a musician as well as a writer: do you agree with the old adage that music is the ultimate art form?

When I’m listening to music I do find myself believing this. As an artform it encompasses so much of human experience and it seems to go into places that words and images cannot reach. But, the wonderful thing about art is that, at its heights, any form will convince you of its supremacy. It’s a bit like a revolving, polyamorous seduction: why should we choose between them?


Anna Smaill