52 Quotes of Justin Cartwright About Novels

” As Eric Weitz argues, the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was not responsible for the Reich; it was a democratic, socially aware and progressive government, way ahead of many other European governments in its introduction of workers’ rights, public housing, unemployment benefit and suffrage for women. “
” The plane approaches Cape Town and, as always, I am astonished by the view of Table Mountain and the surrounding sea. It is so overwhelmingly beautiful that I feel the urge to belong – not necessarily to the people, but to the landscape. “
” I was lucky to get to Oxford. I am now an honorary fellow of my old college, which is nice, particularly for a colonial like me. “
” Coffee must be treated gently and smoothed out. I hadn’t realised it was so temperamental. “
” My own interest in Kafka’s letter came about when I was writing an article on Peter Ginz, the boy novelist held in Terezin, not far from Prague, and exterminated in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The Ginz family were from more or less the same milieu as the Kafkas. “
” A good novel is something that challenges perception, that allows you to see the world anew through a different point of view – something that genre fiction doesn’t do, although it sells more because it doesn’t disturb people’s innate sense of what a novel should be about. Often, people want characters to be nice, for example. “
” Nicola Barker is both prodigiously talented and admirably fearless. I have loved her books. But for some time, I had little or no idea what the point of the story of Sri Ramakrishna was. In fact, he was one of the outstanding men of 19th-century India. “
” I thought I’d write a massive postmodern novel about Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood, but it turns out they couldn’t have met because the first mention of Robin Hood appears 60 years after Richard died. “
” You can’t believe anything that’s written in an historical novel, and yet the author’s job is always to create a believable world that readers can enter. It’s especially so, I think, for writers of historical fiction. “
” I’m not an especially male novelist, but I think men are better at writing about men, and the same is true for women. Reading Saul Bellow is a revelation, but he can’t write women. There are exceptions, like Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead,’ but generally, I think it’s true. “
” Historians and journalists always have agendas, but if I want to find out what’s going on in South Africa, I read Nadine Gordimer or John Coetzee because they offer novelistic truth. “
” The book that meant most to me was ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ It sounds ridiculous, but that was my vision of England. “
” My brother and I were brought up sort of thinking that we were English. I remember hearing the poet Roy Campbell on the radio and being quite shocked that he had a South African accent. I didn’t know there were any South African poets. “
” Someone once pointed out that there are quite a lot of animals in my books, and I’m sure that is something to do with ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ I must have picked up a rather anthropomorphic view of them. “
” I always assumed I could never make a living out of literary fiction, and I was right. When I did try, it took four years before being published. “
” Consciousness – that, to me, is the theme of the modern novel. “
” I write from what I take to be the realist’s point of view, looking at life as it really is – or the way I see it to be. “
” So often in English fiction, people are either upper-class twits, or else they’re knockabouts, less than human. “
” It’s true that all my novels have been versions of myself to some degree. “
” I was once asked by Jeremy Paxman what is it about celebrity and said that people these days seem to think a celebrity is someone who has escaped the constraints of ordinary people: that they don’t have the same kind of problems, almost as if they’re classical gods. “
” ‘The Cauliflower’ is full of these bizarre anecdotes, some of them petty, others moving or whimsical, as its many characters try to make sense of the universe in which they live – a universe strange, febrile, and utterly unique. “
” In his later years, Ramakrishna took up residence at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, from where his radiance extended far, even beyond his death in 1886. “
” ‘The Cauliflower’ is not strictly a novel, as Barker says in her indispensable afterword. “
” The book tour is a strange institution. You are wheeled about to explain your book and even to justify it. “
” I have worshipped Berlin from the day I read ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ in South Africa. It seemed to make it respectable to be a liberal. “
” Not many people like Johannesburg, but I love the place. “
” It is uncomfortable to be reminded that the Catholic church only removed the reference to ‘perfidious Jews’ from the Good Friday liturgy in 1960. “
” The fascination with Judas has persisted despite the fact that there is no evidence of the hard facts of his life. Even the ‘Iscariot’ attached to him may be nothing more significant than a corruption of the name of the town from which he came. “
” Writing ‘Judas: The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle’ must have been a difficult task because there are no facts. Judas may quite possibly never have existed at all, and if he did, the Judas kiss may not have happened. “
” Peter Stanford is a writer on religious and ethical matters. He was for four years editor of the ‘Catholic Herald.’ “
” Strangely enough, the legend of John Brown, who was clearly crazy, helped the abolitionist cause and is thought to have precipitated the American Civil War. “
” James McBride’s ‘The Good Lord Bird’ is set in the mid-19th century and is based on the real life of John Brown, the one who lies a-mouldering in his grave. “
” If Franschhoek has a fault, it is in the lavish refurbishment of wine farms and estates which has reached absurd proportions. Some, like Graf Delaire Estate, are brand new, with jewellery shops, indoor streams, and very high-end lodges for rent at prices not many South Africans can afford. “
” I love Franschhoek, and straight off the plane, I went to the incomparable Quartier Francais, on the main street, for breakfast. This small hotel and restaurant is regularly near the top of every poll for best hotel and restaurant in Africa. “
” Franschhoek Valley was, in recent memory, a simple place with some notable vineyards and two or three streets of Victorian cottages and a few older, thatched houses. The valley was settled early in the 1680s by Huguenots fleeing repression. “
” Franschhoek – French Corner – is a place which serves South Africans as a kind of sophisticated fantasy, an alternative version of what life could be. The small town is enclosed by wild mountains, at this time of year blue and dusty green. “
” Jim Crace’s novels have one thing in common, which is that each is set in an entirely original world. None of these worlds is of a specific time or place, but they seem to have some connection to our own lives. “
” In the new artisan coffee movement, Jeremy Challender, a 32-year-old Australian who is one of the founders of Prufrock Coffee, explains precision is everything for the barista. Jeremy is able to analyse his coffee with the benefit of an app on his phone. “
” Complete barista-standard coffee machines cost from £1,600 to more than £20,000. “
” It was my idea to do a two-hour course of barista training. I was keen to learn how to finish off my coffee with a picture of a heart or a palm tree or, perhaps, a swan. “
” The druidical claims for Stonehenge seem to belong to that bonkers-but-persistent strand of Englishness that believes there is something particularly mystical about the English themselves, who were clearly a chosen people. “
” Transport is not a ministry the ambitious should accept: no transport minister has gone on to be prime minister. “
” Tom Fort, a BBC radio journalist, starts from the assumption that ‘many of us have a road that reaches back into our past’. For him, this is the 92 miles of the A303 – as he subtitles his book, the ‘Highway to the Sun’. “
” This is the strange thing about South Africa – for all its corruption and crime, it seems to offer a stimulating sense that anything is possible. “
” It is surprising how many people who don’t read believe they have a book in them. Why? Nobody would imagine that Alfred Brendel took up the piano on a whim at 25 when he found accountancy unpleasant. “
” In Sydney, I gave what was billed as a masterclass to bright students of writing at the University of Sydney. But the term ‘masterclass’ was possibly over-egging the pudding. All I could do was pass on some lessons from my own life, and the most obvious is that if you want to be a writer, you must first have been a reader. “
” We authors certainly don’t know what is going to happen to our books. Are they going to disappear into the ether, following music downloads, or are ebooks going to open up a whole new world of readers? And how much are we being paid per copy? We haven’t a clue. “
” ‘A Just Defiance’ has been a huge success in South Africa. While reading at times like a well-written thriller, its significance is to reveal apartheid to have been far more brutal, ruthless, and self-serving even than we had suspected. “
” ‘Point Omega’ starts in an art gallery, where an unnamed man is watching, day after day, a 24-hour version of ‘Psycho,’ an installation that was created by the Scottish artist, Douglas Gordon. In it, the events and the minutiae of Hitchcock’s film are painfully slowly reproduced; the watcher is obsessed with the detail revealed. “
” DeLillo has said that he no longer feels a compulsion to write long, compendious books. In his later years, Saul Bellow said something similar. DeLillo, of course, has written very long in the past, notably with the 850-page Underworld (1997), and his story has been America. “
” America is the big subject of the second half of the 20th century, tackled in one form or another by all the great American male writers. You could make a case for saying that it was the only game in town – from Bellow to Roth to Updike to Richard Ford – America was more or less explicitly the leitmotif. “
” A connection between poetry and blindness is a classical trope. “