One Minute With: MJ Hyland, novelist
Friday 22 April 2011
Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm on the settee in the downstairs front room in my end-of-terrace house in Manchester. On the opposite wall there's a framed print of Goya's painting, 'The Dog'. The dog is buried in dark dirt, and he's looking up at the sky.
What are you currently reading?
I'm re-reading John McGahern's short stories. The title story from 'Creatures of the Earth' is a flawless work: one of the greatest short stories from a great writer. I wish he was still alive so that I could meet him; though he probably wouldn't like that very much.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
My writing students are sick of my rants about the genius of Flannery O'Connor. When I make them read 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' they never greet this masterpiece with the right kind of excitement. And then I get huffy.
Describe the room where you usually write
Usually in bed, which is upstairs, but I didn't want to say that right away, so when I answered the first question, I went downstairs. Now I'm back on the bed and much happier.
What distracts you from writing?
I'm addicted to documentaries and film when I can't solve a problem in my fiction.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
Ignatius J Reilly, from John Kennedy Toole's 'A Confederacy of Dunces'. Like Reilly, the educated but slothful hot-dog vendor in New Orleans, I think too "Employers sense in me a denial of their values".
What are your readers like when you meet them?
Disappointed that I don't look as good as my photograph, and likely to say: "You look different".
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
Nelson Mandela. Everything about him. I love the cadence of his speech: "Take/ your knives/ and guns/ and throw them/ into the sea." Truth, compassion, and the right words in the right order. I quite like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon too.
MJ Hyland is a judge for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize; her latest novel is 'This is How' (Canongate)
Arts & Ents blogs
Jared Leto: Best Supporting Actor Oscar sparks backlash from transgender community
In Kony's shadow: Shocking photographs reveal brutality of Lord's Resistance Army
Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi struggles financially despite Oscar nomination
It’s a no from me: The X Factor musical flops at big audition
First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women