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)
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bookies now say Ed Miliband is more likely to be prime minister than David Cameron
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Safe House, TV review: Plenty of teasers to keep us guessing but spare us the cliches
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Louis Tomlinson is launching his own record label and has already 'signed two acts'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments