John Lanchester, novelist & journalist: "I love the sideways nature of Penelope Fitzgerald's intelligence"


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

Standing at my desk in my study. The standing desk is a new thing, after some back trouble earlier in the year. I've been amazed at how easy it's been to get used to it. The idea isn't to stand all day but to mix sitting and standing and to keep shifting position. Out the window I can see the roofs of houses and the City in the distance, Shard and Gherkin and all.

What are you currently reading?

House of Debt by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, a very good book about the relationship between household debt and recession, written for the general reader. I've just finished, and greatly enjoyed, David Nicholls's Us and I'm just about to start Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

There are so many of them that it seems a bit invidious to pick just one, but I've been on a big Penelope Fitzgerald jag recently. I love the sideways nature of her intelligence and the lightness of her touch, and the brilliance with which she writes about so many different worlds.

Describe the room where you usually write

Chaotically untidy, but with a nice view.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Han Solo. Obviously. I'm a little offended you had to ask.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My father. I think we should choose our heroes and heroines from people we know at close range.

John Lanchester's latest book, 'How to Speak Money', is published by Faber