16 Dec 2018

"Cásting. Una novela de actores" - Reseña

En abril de este año tuve el placer de conocer al actor Isidoro Fernandez. Junto con Amaia García de Book Hunter Blog organizamos para Donostia Kultura el paseo literario dramatizado “Pío Baroja. El escritor frente a Donostia” e Isidoro Fernández actuó como Pío Baroja. Su actuación nos impresionó a todos, se convirtió ante nuestros ojos en Pío de verdad. Pero Isidoro Fernández tiene más talentos. Es un lector apasionado y podéis seguir sus lecturas en el blog El blog de Isidoro Fernández actor 
Y también escribe.

La foto hecha por Jonathan Chanca

Cuando una persona que conoces te da la oportunidad de leer sus obras, sientes dos cosas: una de ellas es enorme gratitud por la confianza depositada en ti y la segunda es miedo. Un miedo muy grande de que no te gustará lo que vas a leer, de tener que decírselo al autor, de perder a un amigo/conocido/colaborador o quién sea... En este caso mi miedo ha sido totalmente injustificado, ridículo.

Terminé de leer la novela “Cásting. Una novela de actores” hace poco y sigo impresionada. Es una novela coral con cada capítulo contado por uno de los 4 personajes principales. Tenemos a Teodoro, un actor veterano, yo diría que el eje de toda la historia; su hija Rosa, también actriz, pero al principio de su carrera y dos directoras de casting, Dolores y Avelina. Los personajes están tan bien descritos, que nos parece conocerlos personalmente, vemos claramente sus diferentes personalidades y sentimos una gran simpatía hacía unos y cierto rechazo hacía otros.

En mi caso el flechazo es Teodoro, un señor educado, con muchos conocimientos, que en su rato libre lee los libros de Pessoa, se preocupa por su hija y ayuda a quién cae en su camino. Pero no es un personaje “ángel” (¡aunque poco le falta!). Es muy sarcástico y su deseo de vengarse, de pensar en alguna manera de salirse con la suya me parece muy humano.

El personaje que tiene menos encanto, pero encaja a perfección en la historia y es absolutamente necesario es Dolores. Me he reído mucho con sus “aventuras”, pero a la vez me parece tan egoísta e inútil, que me despertaba un rechazo muy muy fuerte.

De los personajes secundarios llama mucho la atención Sandra, la técnico de sonido con un carácter muy fuerte que toma unas decisiones muy inesperadas por todos los demás personajes. De hecho la podría imaginar como el quinto personaje principal, así de fuerte es mi deseo de conocer mejor sus motivaciones.

Poco más os puedo contar sin revelar demasiado de la trama. Lo único que puedo añadir es que algunos de los hechos son muy inesperados, rozan lo trágico, pero son totalmente verosímiles. El libro tiene 33 capítulos cortos y está disponible en Amazon en formato e-book. En formato físico lo publica en enero ediciones Atlantis. ¡Espero haber despertado vuestra curiosidad lo bastante para echarle un vistazo! Yo estas navidades me pondré a leer otra novela de Isidoro Fernández, “Historia de Ros”. Ya os contaré de que va.

7 Dec 2018

How Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club" Came to Life

Today's author writes about people who prefer to live their lives rightly. They try to make everything seem normal, even when it's not. Especially when it's not. But the author himself isn't like one of his characters. He admits that in his life truth is sometimes weirder than fiction. His biography is not what we consider a perfect life, but that's what makes it inetersting. And most of all: it's really difficult to say where reality ends and the storytelling begins.

Chuck Michael Palahniuk was born on February, 21st 1962 in Pasco, Washington into an economically underprivileged family and spent his early years in a mobile home in Burbank, Washington. The surname, Palahniuk, which is Ukrainian in origin, can be spelled and pronounced numerous different ways. According to Chuck, his paternal grandparents decided to pronounce it as a combination of their first names, Paula and Nick. (The 'Old World' pronunciation would be something like PAH-la-NYOOK).

But Chuck never knew his father’s parents. As recounted in an interview with The Independent, his grandfather shot and killed his grandmother after an argument over the cost of a sewing machine. Chuck’s father, who was three at the time, watched from under a bed as Nick Palahniuk searched the house for additional victims, before turning the gun on himself. In the article, Chuck is quoted saying, "My grandfather was hit over the head by a crane boom in Seattle. Some of the family claimed he was never a violent, crazy person before that. Some say he was. It depends who you believe." The tragic event is described in Stranger Than Fiction.

His parents, Carol and Fred Palahniuk, separated and divorced when he was fourteen, leaving Chuck and his siblings (a brother and 4 sisters) to spend much of their time on their maternal grandparent’s cattle ranch.

We don't know much about his school years, only what he revealed in his writing. In 1980 he graduated from Columbia High School in Burbank, winning the award for “Most Wittiest”. Regarding his interest in writing, Chuck said its thanks to Mr. Olsen, his fifth grade teacher, who told him: Chuck, you do this really well. And this is much better than setting fires, so keep it up.

5th grade poem

After high school, Chuck attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a BA in journalism in 1986. He entered the workforce as a journalist for a local Portland newspaper, covering everything from school board meetings to murders, but soon grot bored of the job. He then got hired as a diesel mechanic, repairing trucks and writing technical manuals. It was during this time that Chuck experienced much of what would become an inspiration for his early work, including working as an escort for terminally ill hospice patients and becoming a member of the notorious Cacophony Society. The Cacophony Society was dedicated to experiencing things outside of the mainstream and performing large-scale pranks in public places. Project Mayhem in Fight Club is a reworked, more violent version of Cacophony Society in which Palahniuk participated.

In his mid-thirties he attended a writing course, but the instructor told him that he made other participants uncomfotable and suggested he should attend a workshop hosted by Tom Spanbauer, a minimalist guru behind the art of “Dangerous Writing.” The resulting short story, Negative Reinforcement, appeared in the literary journal Modern Short Stories in August 1990, and is Chuck’s first known published work. The Love Theme of Sybil and William followed in October.

Tom Spanbauer

During that course he wrote what was his first attempt of a novel: If You Lived Here, You’d be Home Already. It was a 700-page-long and he tried to immitate Stephen King's style. Whenever he tried to send it to an agent or publisher, they were saying the tone is too dark. That's when Chuck decided to recycle some parts of it and created Fight Club, his personal protest against this “discrimination” of darker, more sarcastic style. It was even darker than If You Lived Here, You’d be Home Already.

With that he a book deal with a major publisher. But it wasn't until 20th Century Fox took notice that Chuck found an agent in Edward Hibbert (best known as Gil Chesterton, the food critic on Frasier,) who would go on to broker the deal for Fight Club the movie. Chuck didn't actively participate in doing the film, but he toured the set and met all the staff.

Directed by David Fincher, the adaptation of Fight Club was a flop at the box office, but achieved cult status on DVD. The year of its release, the film was Fox’s top selling disc, and critics everywhere finally began to embrace it. The film’s popularity drove sales of the novel, resulting in multiple re-printings over the next few years. Curiously enough, this book is the one most often stolen from bookshops all around the world.

From that moment Palahniuk could focus solely on writing and his magnificent promotional tours. He's known of buying prompts himself (plastic limbs to autograph them? Check! Candies? Check!). But he also participates in more serious events (in 2012 he was a guest at Gutun Zuria and the talk he gave was really interesting). He “produces” a novel a year, more or less and wasn't slowed down (not a lot) even by the scandal when his agent stole all the income he had in the last years leaving him bancrupted.

Chuck Palahniuk at Gutun Zuria 2012 (Bilbao)

So, how exactly was Fight Club created? The story goes that Chuck was in a fight one night... He was camping with his friends and there was an argument about too loud music with neighbouring campers. He got into a brawl and on Monday went to work with his face smashed up. What surprised him was that no one commented on that, no one asked what happened. Everyone pretended they don't see it. That was what made him think of an underground fight club that no one would ever mention.

Another curiosity is that all the recipes in the book (soap, bombs, etc.) were original. One could sit and do the things themselves, following the instructions. Chuck found it all on the internet. Yes, it's out there! But the publisher decided it's too dangerous and in each recipe they changed some detail, an ingridients, an order and now it's impossible to use them. (Don't try it at home!)

So that's how, 22 years after publishing Fight Club, his first novel, Chuck Palahniuk is still refered to as “that guy who wrote Fight Club”.

To finish, the novel belongs to what we call transgressive fiction, a genre that Palahniuk himself defined as “fiction in which characters misbehave and act badly, so they commit crimes or pranks as a way of either feeling alive, gaining a sense of personal power or as a political acts of civil disobedience” (Postcards from the Future). Most books of the genre explore taboo subjects such as drugs, violence, sex, incest, crime, pedophilia, or highly dysfunctional family relationships. This genre is commonly represented by writers like Bret Easton Ellis, Irvine Welsh or Douglas Coupland. Often depicting the abovementioned controversial topics using accessible forms of narration, these authors represent a radical new generation of popular-democratic American literary tradition. Inspired by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and his openly satirical approach, they provide social criticism in a manner that is accessible and attractive to the audience, using the writing techniques similar to the ones used famously by the authors like Ernest Hemingway or Jack Kerouac. After September, 11th, 2001 most publishers refused to publish books of this genre considering them too dangerous. Palahniuk agreed with them: “ You can only stand on a soap box and beat a drum for so long before you just turn it into a wallpaper. Maybe it‘s time that societal commenting has to be charming, seductive and really entertaining the way it had to be in 1940s and 50s” and at the same time the style of his novels evolved, but he hasn't lost his critical eye and sarcastic tone!

This post is a compilation of sources like:

26 Nov 2018

Book-Tag Liebster Awards: Cuestionario

Hoy una entrada un poco diferente: un book-tag Liebster Awards. Me nominaron CLICHE DE LAS HISTORIAS (casi se me habría olvidado si no hubiera sido por la segunda nominación. ¡Siento haber tardado tanto!) y SUSURROS DE PAPEL. ¡Gracias chicas!

Normas de este tag 
(copiadas directamente de Cliche de las Historias)
1) Agradecer, seguir y nombrar al blog que te ha nominado.
2) Responder a las preguntas que te hagan.
3) Nombrar a 11 blogs con menos de 200 seguidores. (como he visto el tag en varios blogs grandes y como no me dí cuenta de esa regla al nominar a los demás, no la sigo. ¡Sorry!)
4) Hacer 11 preguntas a los blogs a los que nóminas.
5) Informales de la nominación mediante un comentario.

Preguntas para mi (Cliche de las Historias)

1) Si tuvieras que convertir a cenizas algún libro, ¿cuál sería y por qué? (Obviamente hablo de manera hipotética)
Ya sé que a muchos no os va a gustar mi respuesta, pero personalmente no veo ningún valor en la saga de “Crepúsculo” ni en los libros de Paolo Coelho. Sobre este segundo expliqué un poco en mi instagram, por si os interesa: hattps://www.instagram.com/p/BopIenVgwDl/
¡A! Y “50 sombras de Grey”...

2) Selecciona un libro al azar de tu biblioteca y dime, ¿qué le cambiarías y por qué?
Ufff, una pregunta complicada tanto por el contenido como por como realizarla ;) Tengo una biblioteca muy grande, asi que para elegir al azar antes de entrar en la habitacion imagine el numero de la balda y el numero del libro en la fila. Ha salido “Modelos de mujer” de Almudena Grandes. Es un libro de 7 relatos bastante diferentes a las novelas que escribe esta autora. Me acuerdo muy bien que había especialmente uno que me encantó y la impresión general sobre el libro fue muy buena. Así que lo que cambiaría sería su tamaño. Son solo 7 relatos, bastante cortos, así que lo doblaría.

3) ¿Cómo te gusta leer? ¿Acostada o sentada? ¿Con un café o un té? ¿Con o sin música? ¿O te gusta leer de otra forma?
En la cama pero sentada (apoyada en las almohadas), con un té, sin música porque me despista y con uno de mis gatos al lado (no encima porque pesan demasiado). Pero realmente leo siempre, donde sea, cuando pueda (solo no en coches porque me mareo).

4) Si estuvieras sol@ en una isla abandonada y solo tienes un libro, ¿cuál quisieras que fuera y por qué?
Probablemente “El Maestro y Margarita” de Mijaíl Bulgakóv. Es un libro que he leído ya varias veces, pero cada vez descubro algo nuevo en él.

5) ¿Cuál es tu portada favorita de todos los libros que tienes?
Tengo dos portadas que me encantan, totalmete opuestas una al otra. “Harry Potter. A History of Magic” is extraodrdinary: beautiful colours, un precioso fénix. Al quitar la sobrecubierta sigue increíble, con una serpiente verde alrededor de la portada entera.El otro libro está escrito por una autora polaca: “Ganbare! Warsztaty umierania” de Katarzyna Boni habla sobre como los japoneses se enfrentan a la muerte y al peligro. La portada es más sombría: simple, pero muy sugestiva. Es una foto en blanco y negro con parte del título en rojo.

6) ¿Cuál es el nombre de tu blog? y ¿Por qué le pusiste ese nombre?
Donostia Book Club. Viene del nombre de club de lectura en inglés que fundé en 2010 o 2011, no estoy segura. Al principio era solo para resumir nuestras reuniones, ahora es para todo lo que se me ocurre sobre literatura y escribo tanto en inglés como en castellano.

7) ¿Cuál es el personaje literario al que más odias?
Difícil. Me encantan los villanos: creo que son ellos que crean la historia. Sin villanos no hay héroes, los villanos suelen ser más complejos... Así que odiar odiar... David Lurie de “Desgracia” da bastante asco, pero no creo que le odie.

8) Si ese personaje que odias aparece frente a ti, ¿qué le harías?
Me iría lo más lejos posible. No necesito la gente así alrededor mío

9) ¿Shipp favorito?
No lo digaís a nadie. No tengo.

10) ¿Has leído algún manga? y en el caso de que sea así ¿cuál es tu favorito?
Death Note. Queiro leer Battle Royal (he leído el libro pero no el manga)

11) Saga favorita
Harry Potter. Y ahora La Segunda Revolución de Costa Alcala

Preguntas para mi (Susurros de papel)

1. ¿De donde eres? y ¿Tienes acceso a buenas librerías allí?
Soy de Polonia, pero desde hace años vivo en San Sebastián (Donostia). Mi librería favorita con grandes profesionales es Zubieta en la calle Reyes Católicos

2. ¿Cual es tu saga favorita? y si no has leído una ¿Cual te gustaría leer y porque?
Como arriba: Harry Potter y La Segunda Revolución.
Tengo pendiente de leer El bestiario de Axlin

3. ¿Género de música favorita? y recomiendanos un grupo de ese género n.n
Rock. The Rolling Stones (las viejas canciones, no las más nuevas), The Doors, Guns´n´Roses

4. Personaje más odiado de un libro
Como en la respuesta 7 arriba. No sé, quizás David Lurie

5. Recomiendanos una película y una serie
El silencio de los corderos, Las brujas de Eastwick, El resplandor... ¡Hay tantas!
Con alguna serie lo veo más difícil. Quizás Aggretsuko o The Good Place.

6. Adaptación favorita de un libro al cine 
Sleepers (Los hijos de la calles). Supera el libro.

7. ¿Algún juego favorito?
¿De que tipo de juegos hablamos? Me gustan algunos juegos de mesa, como Exlibris o Sagrada. Siempre me encantaba el Scrabble, pero a este últimamente me falta tiempo.

8.¿Te gusta visitar las bibliotecas? ¿Lees ahí pides libros prestado y demás o no te gusta?
Me encanta. Si viajo visito las bibliotecas famosas y sus exposiciones. En mi ciudad colaboro con la biblioteca y organizo tertulias literarias. No me quedo leyendo allí, prefiero llevarme cosas a casa.

9. ¿Tienes un libro que siempre lleves en tu maleta?
Siempre llevo un libro en mi maleta. Pero nunca el mismo.

10. ¿Que te gustaría de regalo de navidad?
Jajajaja, ¿libros?

Mis nominados:
11. Katerine

Mis preguntas para ellos:
  1. El personaje con cual más te identificas y porque
  2. El primer libro que te acuerdas haber leído
  3. Un autor favorito y porque
  4. El genero favorito y porque
  5. Una adaptación del libro al cine que te disgusto
  6. Dentro de que libro te gustaría vivir
  7. Que libro muy popular a ti no te gusta
  8. Que libro te da vergüenza no haber leído
  9. El mejor villano en la literatura
  10. Que libro estas leyendo actualmente
  11. Libro-regalo universal que peda gustar a cualquiera

¡Espero leer vuestras respuestas pronto!

18 Nov 2018

Reseña: "Todo lo mejor" de César Pérez Gellida

Hoy os traigo la reseña de la novela “Todo lo mejor” de César Pérez Gellida, publicado por Suma de letras, un sello de Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial. Primero tengo que admitir que el libro desde el principio me atraía y echaba para atrás a partes iguales. Raro, verdad? Me explico: la sinopsis contenía dos elementos principales para la novela, uno es algo que me enamoró desde principio y el otro me hacía dudar mucho. 

Una ciudad separada por un muro y unida por un sanguinario asesino. Dos investigadores que descubrirán que la crueldad no tiene límites. Una historia negra para iniciarse en el género Gellida.” 

Pocas cosas me entusiasman tanto como una buena historia sobre un asesino en serie, pero la Guerra Fría es un periodo que intento evitar en la literatura lo máximo posible. Puede que tenga algo que ver haber nacido en Polonia en 1983 y que el tema no me resulta una teoría tan lejana como a muchos otros... Quien sabe. En fin, la curiosidad ganó y ¡menos mal! El libro me encantó. Es verdad que las primeras páginas que nos explican el conflicto y sitúan a los personajes se me hicieron pesadas, pero más o menos a partir de la página 20 no me pude despegar del libro. 

La construcción de los personajes, tanto los principales como los secundarios es una verdadera obra maestra. El hecho de que la intriga no se centre únicamente en la investigación, si no que a la vez trata de una operación secreta de la KGB añade un toque muy interesante a las motivaciones de Victor Lavrov, un agente KGB y a la vez un apasionado psicólogo criminal. También me sorprendió encontrar en este libro unos personajes tan maravilloso como Otto Bauer, el jefe de Kriminalpolize y su hermana, otro agente de policía Birgit. Pero lo mejor, lo que hace que toda la historia sea verosímil, es la increíble labor de documentación que imagino tuvo que hacer el autor sobre la hematodixia, y no hablo aquí sobre los casos más conocidos como el de Elizabeth Bathory, sino como puede funcionar entre la gente común. En fin, una lectura muy recomendable no solo para cualquier amante de la novela negra, también para los que sienten curiosidad por la época de la Guerra Fría. 5/5

12 Nov 2018

Graham Swift's "Mothering Sunday": A Modern Fairytale

Mothering Sunday Review
Recently I've read a novel of an author, I'm ashamed to admit, totally unknown to me, Graham Swift. “Mothering Sunday” is a very short story, just 149 pages, but that's enough to cause an impression I won't forget soon!

In a typical for Swift style, the narration jumps between 1990s and one sunny day in March, 1924, Mothering Sunday. It's that single day that marks the main character, Jane Fairchild and makes her move into her future. In a seemingly simple afair between a maid and a heir we can see disappearing Georgian society, a move from clear class society with its rich families and their servants into modern era, where Jane can become anyone. 22 years old in 1924 she feels her whole future lays ahead of her and the tragedy that follows that feeling doesn't stir her away, but towards her yet not consciously chosen path.
In a way the novel is a novel of coming of age and not like the title states, a romance. It's much more than just a love story. Its fairytale-like quality is not only visible in some dreamy descriptions, but already the first sentence suggests it: “Once upon a time, before the boys were killed and when there were more horses than cars, before the male servants disappeared...”. And so it continues, including characteristic for Swift narration, with its jumps in time and free manner of expressing narrator's thoughts. Something that might seem rather disorganised is used as an excelent tool to build tention and turn one simple day into a landmark in Jane's life.
The character could be compared to some modern-age feminist Cinderella, who didn't need a prince to become all that she wanted. In that interpretation Mr Niven, her patron, would become an unaware of his importance fairy-godmother.
However we decide to look at it, the novel with its relaxed and direct descriptions of sex is a great read. I'm definitely going to look for more of Swift's works.

Graham Swift's Biography
The text below is a compilation of 3 different sources (I haven't written it myself, just arranged the fragments into a logical order): for the sources check the list under the article.
Graham Swift is one of England’s most successful and highly regarded novelists. Since 1980 he has published ten novels, 3 collections of short stories, and a nonfiction book. His most known books are Waterland, from 1983, which is considered a modern classic, and Last Orders, which was awarded a Booker Prize in 1996. He publishes novels, since 1983 (folowing first 3 books of 1980, 1981 and 1982), every four to five years and they are translated to 30 languages.

Graham Colin Swift was born on May 4, 1949, in Catford in South London, the son of a civil servant. His childhood he described as “an ordinary suburban existence” but “really quite happy”. His family was a typical middle class. Swift‘s mother Sheila Irene (née Bourne) had grown up in slightly more prosperous Sydenham, while his father, Allan Stanley Swift, hailed from the more working class; both of them have greatly influenced him. His father had been a fighter pilot decorated for his services. After the war, he took up a rather mundane job in the National Debt Office, "this Dickensian-sounding place," says Swift. "Eventually, he was a book-keeper. He did not relish his job. But that sort of security was very rare and he was glad to have it. He stuck with it through his life and collected his pension."
Swift was brought up in Croydon, in a house on the very edge of London. "There was a farm about half a mile away and then countryside. As I grew up, a lot of that land was developed and became general suburbia." It was a happy childhood. "My mother was a great bringer-up of children. My memories are of a sense of security and comfort."

But he also says: "Growing up in the 1950s, there was all the physical evidence of war," Swift recalls. "Whenever we went away on holiday we would pack stuff in five or six very sturdy brown canvas bags called parachute bags. I didn't realise what it meant. But my father would have put a parachute in this bag and it might have saved his life. So the second world war, which I never went through, has been my great history lesson." (Making An Elephant)

Though he now bashfully dismisses it, he excelled academically and in 1960 won a scholarship to Dulwich College, the alma mater of PG Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler and fellow Booker-winner Michael Ondaatje. Swift found the regime restrictive: "Becoming a writer or an artist or anything like that was not really the done thing," he says. He also had little interest in sport and was very shy. His English teacher, Laurie Jagger, says, "He didn't say anything unless he had to. There was an athletics-based house system, and Graham suffered a little under it." Jagger recalls him at 13 reading the Elizabethan writers John Skelton and Sir Thomas Wyatt. He could also command a range of styles: in their first lesson together, Jagger recalls, "he wrote an exercise on the Canterbury Tales and another based on Gulliver's Travels . It proved that Graham could write in almost any way."
He went to Queen‘s College, Cambridge, in 1967. He graduated in English in 1970 and in 1973 he moved to York to write his PhD thesis “The role of the City in 19th-century English literature". He said about writing it "I can say unabashedly because it is now out in the open that the whole thing was bogus. I just did enough to convince people that I was working on something. That was really when I was teaching myself to write" (Making An Elephant). It was at Cambridge that Swift first saw his work in print, in the college journal Solstice, of which he was, briefly, editor.
It was also at York that Swift met Candice Rodd, then an English undergraduate. Both of them came from the same part of South London which ironicly at first didn't bring them together. "He was very quiet and intense," she recalls, "and I was frivolous and loud. Another thing was that we both came from the same part of south London. I was appalled. I didn't want to meet people from south London. And anyway, he didn't come out to play very much, because he was ostensibly working on his thesis. He seemed a very scholarly boy and I wasn't a very scholarly girl." They've been living together in London for over 35 years and they have no children.
Swift decided to abandon his PhD and worked as a teacher in Greece at the age of 25 (a year in Volos) and returning back to London he supported himself with a variety of stop-gap jobs, ranging from security guard to farm worker, but mostly as a teacher, he threw himself into becoming a writer with renewed vigour. With the success of his first three novels he decided to become a full-time writer. In one of the magazines, he gives fishing as his sole recreation and his agent‘s address as his own. He is clearly a writer who values privacy in his personal life.
His first novel The Sweet Shop Owner was published in 1980 and received very positive reviews. Until Waterland in 1983 he couldn't really live off writing, but 1983 changed everything. He was a strong nomination for a Booker Prize (which he lost to J.M. Coetzee). The same year Graham Swift, with Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, William Boyd, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie, was named by Granta as one of Britain's best young novelists. "Until Waterland, I wouldn't say that I was entirely out in the cold, but I certainly had my moments of wondering 'Am I really going to make a career out of this?' And the events of 1983 said, 'Yes, you were right, mate!'"
Curiously enough he is one of not many authors that even when they write about their own city do not use their own experiences at all. He has absolutely nothing in common with his character's and in one of the interviews he even said that he really starts with a blank page, “creates something from nothing”. There are NO autobiographical elements in his books. "I have been a writer for a long time and wanted to be a writer for a long time, even when I was quite small. Maybe I recognized then that I had this kind of imagination. It is more of a mystery tour than a known plan. I'm very much a writer who writes by instinct and intuition. Things do change their shape as you write. That is very healthy. I look back and remember when I started out I did not know a single other writer and had no one to teach me. It was a very solitary, long period of working away at it and eventually getting into print. It is not something I would recommend for anyone who wants a secure and easy life" (Goldsmith, “Book Talk: Author Graham Swift says writing is no easy”).
His style is very defined. He writes deeply intertextual and metafictional novels, with self-questioning narrators who tell their stories in non-linear manner.
If he ever lacks inspiration he goes to the park, he has been doing the same thing over the past 35 years: a short trip across Wandsworth Common in south London; he leaves his Victorian terraced house, goes past the County Arms Pub (a wood-paneled establishment where the barmen know him by name) before ducking behind a row of houses and then, suddenly, he is in the park. "I do my thinking while I walk. It just loosens up the mind in the way that you don't get when you are sitting at a desk."
Graham doesn't go for flashy things," says his friend and fellow Booker winner Kazuo Ishiguro. "He goes for depth of emotions and he doesn't like to show off. He goes into that drizzly, unglamorous region of human existence and tries to find there something universal. I think that he looks for the dignity and heroism of very ordinary, drab, almost-defeated lives."
However, despite Swift's almost monastic dedication to his writing, he has more than once been the subject of literary controversy. The first of these conflagrations was ignited in 1986 by a little-known Australian academic, John Frow, when he accused Swift, in Last Orders, of plagiarising William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, which also deals with a group pilgrimage to lay a dead friend to rest: "The resemblance is not just a matter of the similarity of story, which is a common one, or of the use of shifting point of view, which again is a standard in the modern novel, or of the representation of vernacular speech. The resemblance goes down to small details, including the use of first names as chapter headings, the use of a one-sentence chapter, the attribution of one chapter to a dead person, and the organisation of a chapter by enumerated points," Frow wrote. Almost immediately, the literary establishment leapt to Swift's defence: " Last Orders does no more than what countless books, movies, paintings and musical works have always done, and will continue to do," wrote Ishiguro, "that is, to allude to an established classic for its own purposes."

While he has friends among the most prominent London literary figures, including Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, he resists all the usual invitations and shies away from the literary scene. In person, in his jeans and flannel shirt, he is meticulously polite and understated. In fact, to all outward appearances, Swift lives as eminently unadventurous and unremarkable a life as any of his characters.

"I think Graham is a profile-writer's nightmare," says Ishiguro, "because he is quiet and stable. He is very much someone who is engrossed in his writing. He's been living in more or less the same patch of south London in that same house for years with Candice." Ishiguro goes on: "The interesting depth to Graham is all about his inner life."

And so most of his time is spent at home. He wakes without an alarm clock, slips quietly to his office without waking his wife and sets to work. He writes with a Waterman, using black-ink cartridges on Oxford A4 feint-ruled pads. "I like the moment the ink runs out and you have to put another one up the spout," he says. "It's like putting in ammunition."
The very early morning is a time of "guaranteed non-interruption", something he's also been assured by not having children, a decision he puts down simply to "never having felt enough of what it is you need to feel to have them". "He doesn't do much research before starting the book," says his wife, Candice. "He imagines and surmises and when he is finished he says, 'I better just see if the place really exists or if it is possible to do this'."

"There's no doubt that writing can on occasion be grim, lonely, miserable, desperate and wretched," he says, "and there were many years when I struggled materially. But I've also known wonderful times. Writing is a very emotional thing, especially when words come in a way that you know is right. At the heart of the writer's life there can be a great sweetness. And it's also a great adventure: your whole life, from book to book, is a constant adventure."

1. David Malcolm, “Understanding Graham Swift”, University if South Carolina Press 2003
2. John O´Mahony, “Triumph of the Common Man”, The Guardian, Sat 1 Mar 2003: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/mar/01/fiction.grahamswift
3. Edward Marriot, Interview: “How did I End Becoming a Novelist?”, The Guardian, Sun 1 Mar 2009: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/mar/01/biography-graham-swift