‘I blame The Sheltering Sky for my wanderlust’
The book that changed my life
Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky. Though I could not have realised it at the time, this book would come to inform my ideas about travelling and the richness of a life abroad, however menacing. I blame it for my wanderlust, and thank it for drawing me out of a cloistered childhood into the unknown.
The book I wish I’d written
Beloved by Toni Morrison. Flawless. Its beauty fills me with hope, no matter how ferocious its story.
The book that had the greatest influence on me
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina , as grandiose as that sounds. I was still young and came to it at just the right moment, as an aspiring writer. I understood how alive and bracingly real a character can become, through the most fleeting of gestures. My obsession with 19th-century literature began there.
The book that is most overrated
Anything and everything by Charles Bukowski. Maybe because I was never a 16-year-old boy, I don’t know. What am I missing?
The book that changed my mind
Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. I waded into it having only a general idea of what transpired and came away stunned by what actually took place,
of the Ring.
The book I’m ashamed not to have read
Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick . Maybe I’ve shied away from the enormous investment of energy required; but with every year I’m inching slowly towards it. The book I give as a gift
Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 . I was taken aback by its unlikely combination of grandeur and grit, its operatic structure married to the bleakest of contemporary material: the disappearance and murder of women. It’s a beast of a book, true, but surprising, deeply raw and haunting. The book I’d most like to be remembered for
This will probably always feel as if it should be the book I’ve just written. But to be remembered for anything at all, I think, would be a rare and fine thing.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is published by Serpent’s Tail.