One minute with: Tash Aw, novelist

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Where are you now and what can you see? In my study, which is also my dining room, in London. I can see a very unkempt yard littered with the first of the autumn leaves of the plane tree in the next garden; beyond this I can see the rear windows of the houses in the next street; someone is leaning out of a window talking on a mobile phone.

What are you currently reading? En finir Avec Eddy Bellegueule by Edouard Louis, an extraordinary autobiographical novel about class, violence and sexuality in France. It's a vivid, often brutal but immensely touching book that restores my faith in the power of literature.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him William Faulkner, for the intensity of his gaze, and his stylistic and social concerns. I read him as a teenager in Malaysia, and something about the characters and landscape of his Deep South resonated powerfully with me, even though I lived 10,000 miles away.

Describe the room where you usually write A square, book-lined room with a rectangular table in the middle of it – the one I'm in now. Piles of books keep appearing on the floor, no matter how hard I try to keep the place tidy. But at night it's dim, lit by a single lamp – so you can't see the mess.

Which fictional character most resembles you? Baoyu, from Dream of the Red Chamber, but only in his refusal to conform (I wasn't born with a piece of magical jade in my mouth).

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature The Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe.

Tash Aw is a judge for the BBC National Short Story Award with Book Trust, whose shortlist was announced this week. His latest book is 'Five Star Billionaire'