Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
The author of The Blind Man's Garden explains how his love for writing has come at a great cost
"We’ve lived through an extraordinary decade, starting with 9/11 and ending with the Arab Spring. Within that we have had the War on Terror, the call to Jihad, Abu Ghraib, Iraq—this bloody struggle between an incomplete understanding of the West and an incomplete understanding of the East, and I wanted to articulate all of that. I thought one way to do that would be to go right to the beginning and see 9/11 as a hinge moment. There is a pre-9/11 and a post-9/11 world, and I wanted to see how much the inadequacies of the pre-9/11 world affected what came afterwards—the treatment of women, the relationship between East and West and wealthy and non-wealthy—and how much those imbalances made things worse and caused most of the problems."
The Riordans are a family in crisis, but they barely know it. The novel starts with Irish matriarch Gretta sweating her way through a July day that seems like any other except for the extraordinary heat that is choking London. Her husband Robert leaves to buy a newspaper, as he has every morning of his adult life – only this time, he doesn’t return. While Robert is busy performing his disappearing act, the novel’s focus turns to the couple’s three adult children. This is a wincingly accurate examination of family dynamics and a story that grips from the start. Maggie O’Farrell is a highly reliable purveyor of magic; she delivers the goods time and time again, yet manages to improve on a winning formula.