Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sofka Zinovieff

Sofka Zinovieff studied social anthropology at Cambridge and carried out the research for her PhD in Greece. This marked the beginning of a lifelong involvement with the country.

She has lived in Moscow and Rome and worked as a freelance journalist and reviewer, writing mainly for British publications including The Telegraph Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, The Financial Times, The Spectator, The Independent Magazine and The London Magazine.

After many years in Athens, she now divides her time between there and England. She is married and has two daughters.

Zinovieff's new novel is Putney.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Cressida Connolly’s After the Party, is set in the little-known milieu of England’s nicely-spoken fascists in the late 1930s. They revered Oswald Mosley, attended the cheery, black-shirt summer camps on the south coast and were taken aback when during the war, they were suddenly flung in jail as traitors. Phyllis is a political innocent who never really understands what she has done wrong, even when she is exiled on the Isle of Man (ironically, along with German Jews as well as other British fascists). Connolly’s lyrical writing is razor-sharp and wonderfully funny. She has also taken on a subject which resonates only too powerfully with current politics. It always was easy for people to be seduced by charismatic, populist leaders and nothing has changed. Danger can lurk in the most comfortable lives.

Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

An enchanting novel set in Georgian London, that manages to be both wickedly bodice-ripping and brilliantly intelligent. It made me feel buoyantly happy all the way through, even though some of the characters have a terribly hard life – courtesans in London had no fun unless they were very lucky. The author has a marvelous sense of humor and despite the evidence of her deep knowledge of the epoch, its language and its ways, the book is very modern in its sensibility.

Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger

I missed this the first time around when it won the Booker Prize in 1987 and caught up recently as it was on the shortlist for the Golden Booker this year. I was entranced by the clever, prickly heroine, the environment of Egypt during the Second World War and the ability of Lively to telescope between a captivating love story and enormous questions of history and the individual. Moon Tiger doesn’t refer to something dreamy or fey but the smoking coil that was burned by the doomed lovers at night to keep mosquitoes away.

Glen David Gold, I Will Be Complete

This memoir is an extraordinary look at the life of a clever but neglected boy in 1970s San Francisco. From a reasonably well-off family, the young Glen doesn’t look like a typically deprived child, but the neglect from his intelligent but flaky parents is horrifying. I found myself groaning with empathy; my London upbringing in the same era had some similarities, as does that of the heroine of my novel, Putney. I also laughed every other page. The book continues to Gold’s young adulthood, and while I found those passages less memorable, the section on his childhood is astonishing and brilliant.
Visit Sofka Zinovieff's website.

My Book, The Movie: Putney.

--Marshal Zeringue