Joseph O'Neill, novelist: 'I've always carried a torch for Samuel Beckett. His prose got better as he aged'


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

At home, in New York. Ahead of me, a bookcase I never tire looking at, or into. If I turn my head, various skyscrapers appear, none famous. I never tire of looking at them either.

What are you currently reading?

2666, by Roberto Bolaño. I've only just started, though, so I can't really say much about it except so far, so very good.

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

I'm an admirer of books rather than authors. That said, I've always carried something of a torch for Samuel Beckett: languages maestro, first-class cricketer, resistance fighter. His prose got better as he aged, which is quite something, given how good and original it was to begin with.

Describe the room where you usually write

When people talk about writing, they usually mean the typing part. I very rarely write anywhere. If you hired a private eye to spy on me, she'd probably report that I was an almost completely static domestic loafer who occasionally ate stuff. There would be no sign of Jamesian or Toibínian great-writer-at-his-desk productivity. Twice or thrice a year, though, I escape New York and go either to Nova Scotia or West Virginia for a couple of weeks, and there I do a lot of typing. These are rented properties, with views of the ocean and of a densely forested valley respectively.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

The fictional character named Joseph O'Neill.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My parents are pretty special, I've got to say.

Joseph O'Neill's latest novel, longlisted for the Man Booker prize, is 'The Dog'