Sunday, June 30, 2019

Louis Greenberg

Louis Greenberg is a renowned writer in his own right, having been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for his debut novel The Beggars’ Signwriters (2007), but is perhaps more known for his work with Sarah Lotz as one half of internationally bestselling S.L. Grey.

Green Valley is his first solo novel to be published outside his native South Africa. He is currently based in England.

Recently I asked Greenberg about what he was reading. His reply:
My choice for this post surprises me. I usually seek out books that are set elsewhere – whether on another continent or on another planet. I love reading that transports me. But the book I’ve most enjoyed recently is The Plague Stones by James Brogden. I thought it was deftly plotted and felt effortlessly confident, and it was all about the history and present of the part of England where I currently live.

Partly, I suppose it’s because I’m newish to England and the area, so in a way this was like reading a book about another place. But on the other hand, I’ve been here long enough for the villages and towns in the area to feel familiar, and then to get the thrill of those familiar places being rendered strange through this uncanny novel. Finding the right book is so much about where and when it meets you.

I find the layers of history in England fascinating. I live in a place where there are barns and houses older than Shakespeare, and where if there’s a carving in a beam above a door, it’s a genuine witch mark, not some self-conscious, faux decoration. Until not that long ago, people here were stashing children’s clothes and other trinkets in their ceilings to ward off evil presences. Who knows, perhaps some still are.

The Plague Stones brilliantly blends the contemporary politics of short-cut property developers and bodies corporate with much older stories of injustice and ostracism. It made me look at cornerstones and keystones and the weathered old rocks I’ve already started taking for granted with the new eyes of a traveller.
Visit Louis Greenberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue