‘I blame The Shel­ter­ing Sky for my wan­der­lust’

The Guardian - Review - - The Books That Made Me - Esi Edugyan

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.

Swann’s Way

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.

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