One Minute With: Lisa Appignanesi, cultural historian


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my study. Through the window, I can see a surprise burst of pink azalea in the wintry garden and tall sycamores, their bare branches punctuated by nests.

What are you currently reading?

I'm judging the Orange Prize, so it's mostly fiction. Over the last days, there have been terrific novels: Ann Patchett's 'State of Wonder', Gillian Slovo's 'An Honourable Man', Chibundu Onuzo's 'The Spider King's Daughter'.

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

It will have to be Philip Roth. He manages to mingle ideas, character, questions about what it is to be human – all with huge narrative zest and often humour.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's the room I'm in and the view is important. It was once my son's, then my daughter's, then became my own. The desk stretches along two walls and I sit in the curve of the V looking at my screen or the gardens behind.

What distracts you from writing?

Any- and everything. I do a fair amount of broadcasting. I'm Chair of the Freud Museum. With my Visiting Professor and Wellcome hat at King's College, London, I'm setting up a series of films, discussions, and podcasts on Brain and Mind. Then there are the publication events for 'All About Love'...

Which fictional character most resembles you?

If I have to choose one who isn't Henry James's Isabel Archer, or George Eliot's Dorothea, or Balzac's young man from the provinces, then it would have to be Christopher Robin or, maybe, Pollyanna.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

They're wonderful, and all very different from one another.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

All the young people who took part in the Arab Spring! And the great and greatly patient Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lisa Appignanesi's 'All About Love' is published in paperback by Virago