Quite simply, How To Read A Novelist is a collection of articles based on author interviews by John Freeman, a well know literary critic. What makes the book remarkable is the sheer number of awesome authors he has interviewed. You name the writer, and I bet he or she is included here. There are those who you would expect like John Irving, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, but there are some more unlikely candidates as well, like Gunter Grass, Nadine Gordimer and Vikram Chandra. And then there were the writers I’d never eve heard of, like Imre Kertesz and Aleksandar Hemon. Overall the book contains more than 50 articles based on interviews with celebrated writers. Not bad.
My only quibble with the collection is the title: How To Read a Novelist. I found this to be misleading. The title made me think that the book was going to be a in depth breakdown of several writers’ works, not interviews. But title aside, it was a fascinating read.
Who would like this book? You know who you are. This book is meant for the individual who always flips to the arts section of the newspaper first to read about writers discussing their latest works. It is meant for the individual who does not just read books, but is interested in the process behind the work, the life of the writer and literary celebrity. It is for someone like me. It reminded me very much of Why We Write, which I reviewed earlier this year.