Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sarah Salway

Sarah Salway has published numerous short stories, as well as winning several writing competitions. Her first novel Something Beginning With, an extremely funny and sad story of love, self-discovery and the alphabet, was published in 2004 by Bloomsbury in the UK and Ballantine in the US (as The ABCs of Love), and has been translated into many languages. Her latest novel is Tell Me Everything.

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I am never sure which comes first, the reading or the writing. But what I do know is that they both feed off each other. I can't imagine being the sort of writer who blithely says: 'I never read.' If nothing else - ignoring the pleasure, the stimulation, the excitement that comes with reading - it seems bad manners. Rather like not joining in with the conversation but shouting out random sentences from the corner instead.

However, I do try to stay away from books with direct links to whatever I'm writing in case I either 'borrow' by mistake, or get overwhelmed by other voices. Instead I read round the subject. At the moment, I'm enjoying Isabel Allende's Aphrodite. It's the best possible reminder, not just how nourishing good food and sex can be, but how funny too. Really life enhancing.

Another food book I'm devouring is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - the story of how the novelist and her family decided to live for a year eating only local produce. Like Aphrodite, but with slightly different aims, recipes are woven into the narrative, and using them to cook for my family feels like I'm taking the role in someone else's story. Delicious. Perhaps it's not surprising that food is becoming even more central to my current novel in progress.

I'm also re-reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. What's interesting for me is how I'm seeing completely different themes from the first time I read it, younger, and perhaps angrier. It's the links between all the characters I notice this time round, whereas before it was the discord. Strange that.

Then poetry. I always try to read some poetry every day, and my favourite collection of the moment is Susan Wicks' latest book, De-Iced.

Lastly, I'm working my way through Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. There are several included I haven't come across before and I'm looking forward to reading more of Maile Meloy and Rattawut Lapcharoensap in particular.
Recently, Salway selected a top ten list of books about unlikely friendships for the Guardian.

Learn more about Sarah Salway's writing -- and read some of her poetry and journalism -- at her website and at her blog, Sarah's Writing Journal.

--Marshal Zeringue