Fiction allows you to embody certain ideas and give them an emotional reality. The characters allow you to get close viscerally to an idea.
I think there are all kinds of aspects to reality, to domestic reality, and why don’t we just talk about them all?
There should be a democracy of voices in literature. There are people who live with a kind of striving and with a certain kind of tenderness – it’s not an unusual thing – and maybe that’s not written about enough.
Certain things can’t be approximated, so I’m always interested in getting in another way, one which makes the reader bend in closer to the scene even if that scene, especially if that scene, is painful… Brutal language isn’t necessarily the most truthful way of describing a brutal moment.
I’m not being naive; I realise there’s no such thing as a pure reading. But I’d rather keep myself as far out of it as I can.
I really believe we read differently when we know even the most banal facts of an author’s life.
I have a profound resistance to the idea that a reader could say, ‘Oh, well, that’s her story.’ We should all be interested, no matter where we come from, or who our parents are. It’s not my province; it’s ours. These questions concern us all.
I started to write things down, as a very young child, wanting to find a way to remember – to keep close, somehow – moments that made an impression on me.
It’s a fantastic privilege to spend three or four hundred pages with a reader. You have time to go into certain questions that are painful or difficult or complicated. That’s one thing that appeals to me very much about the novel form.
I’ve said this before – and I mean it strongly – an abstract concept or a moral issue has to be connected to feeling. If we don’t believe it somehow viscerally, we don’t really take it in.
As any parent knows, part of your mind is always engaged – wondering and worrying that everything is okay and calculating all the stuff that has to get done in the course of a day. When the children are asleep in their beds, I can go where I really need to go in my head.