Xiaolu Guo, novelist & film-maker: 'Lots of writers are not interested in literature and aesthetic at all'


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I am on a Heathrow Express to the airport, on my way from London to Melbourne. I am passing some small Victorian houses along the railway.

What are you currently reading?

Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending and Bill McKibben's The End of Nature.

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

Italo Calvino. Especially his Invisible Cities and If On a Winter's Night a Traveller. I love his work for his intellectual commitment and exercise of poetic language. Nowadays lots of writers not only write without authenticity, they are not interested in literature and aesthetic at all. But Calvino and some others in his generation pushed forward literature on a new platform.

Describe the room where you usually write

Our living room, where my small baby usually plays and there is a desk for me to write. There is a TV and two sofas. A multifunction room. On the carpet lots of toys are always scattered around, buried in between books and magazines.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Sometimes I picture myself as one of the characters in a Marguerite Duras novel. A nervous woman who has a complicated and alienated past. When I was young, I identified with the young French girl in her novel, The Lover.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Many European filmmakers from the '50s and '60s, like Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Godard, Agnes Varda and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Xiaolu Guo will preview her new novel, 'I Am China', at Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival on 20 May at 6.45pm