Summary: As our thoughts turn to life after the pandemic, authors from this year’s Hay festival choose books that have inspired lasting change in them
Original author and publication date: The Guardian – may 29, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: When properly understood, traditional sacred texts also inspire change.
From the article:
Ali Smith, novelist
Books, and all the arts, naturally and endlessly inspire change because they free up the possibilities between reality and the imagination, and the possibilities for change in us. They never stop doing this. It’s one of the reasons the current powers that be are hellbent on controlling the arts, devaluing them, removing easy access to them and controlling history’s narratives. Last week I read a debut novel called Assembly by Natasha Brown. It’s a quiet, measured call to revolution. It’s about everything that has changed and still needs to change, socially, historically, politically, personally. It’s slim in the hand, but its impact is massive; it strikes me as the kind of book that sits on the faultline between a before and an after. I could use words like elegant and brilliantly judged and literary antecedents such as Katherine Mansfield/Toni Morrison/Claudia Rankine. But it’s simpler than that. I’m full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.
Ali Smith is the author of Summer (Penguin)
Malcolm Gladwell, author
After I wrote my second book, Blink, I decided that there was something wrong with my writing. It was too chilly. All theory and no feeling. I had characters in my books, but the reader never got the chance to know them. I would drop a name and then charge on with the story. So I said, which writer can teach me how to engage with my characters? And my answer was: Michael Lewis. In particular Lewis’s brilliant book The Blind Side, about a wealthy white couple in Memphis, Tennessee who adopted, Good Samaritan-style, a poor black teenager they saw walking down the road. I must have read The Blind Side four times, making notes in the margins and underlining huge sections. Lewis has a gift for being patient with his subjects, and letting them speak for themselves, so the picture that emerges is authentically of them, and I wanted to figure out how to do that too. Am I now as good as him at this task? No. Of course not. But I’m better than I was, and it’s safe to say that I could never have written a book like The Bomber Mafia without the benefit of his tutelage.
Malcolm Gladwell is the author of The Bomber Mafia (Allen Lane).