Friday, August 31, 2007

David Pilling

David Pilling's journalism caught my eye with his account of lunch with the novelist David Mitchell.

So a few days ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Because of my job, Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times, I read a lot of non-fiction about Japan both in English and Japanese. I tend to have several books on the go at once, which is probably not a good thing. At the moment, these include (in no particular order) Alan Macfarlane's Japan Through the Looking Glass, a book that grapples intelligently with the question of just how different is Japan; Totetsumonai nihon (Incredible Japan), a book by Taro Aso laying out his bid to be the next prime minister; A History of Japan to 1334 by George Sansom, the first part of a three-part classic.

I have just finished the diaries of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spin-doctor in chief. This was a fascinating if somewhat self-serving account of the Blair Years, but it includes a lot of Clinton, Bush, Iraq and Ireland as well. A really interesting read.

I also try to keep up with fiction, but not very successfully. For work (though it turned out for pleasure) I recently read three David Mitchell novels, the best of which was Cloud Atlas followed by Black Swan Green, the latter a much more personal childhood autobiography than his usual romps through time and space.

I would like to go back and read Turgenev's books, especially Fathers and Sons. I also love Chinua Achebe, especially the marvellous Things Fall Apart.
"Lunch with the FT" isn't always free, but you can always have a taste of Pilling's account of lunch with David Mitchell.

--Marshal Zeringue