The Faber Podcast
The gun in the title of Emma Brockes' extraordinary memoir belonged to her mother Paula, who left South Africa as a young woman in the 1960s to build a new life for herself in England, away from the trauma of her earlier years. 'One day I will tell you the story of my life', she promised her ten-year-old daughter, 'and you will be amazed'. She didn't reveal details during her lifetime, but something piqued her journalist daughter's curiosity. Tracking down relatives on a different continent, some more reticent than others, Emma Brockes unravels an astonishing story of murder, molestation and abuse. Yet the book is far from misery memoir, packed as it is with quirky stories and tales of amazing resilience.
Like Nadeem Aslam's previous novel The Wasted Vigil, The Blind Man's Garden is set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. But whereas its predecessor focused on foreign characters who came to Afghanistan from other nations, in the new book Aslam explores how a group of Pakistani characters experience the onset of the war on terror. The conflict is never far away in one of the most rapturously received novels so far this year.
Neil McKenna's rolicking and extremely colourful 'Fanny and Stella' is an account of the lives and loves of two effeminate cross-dressing young men whom Victorian society found every bit as shocking as Oscar Wilde (the subject of the author's previous award-winning biography). Like Wilde, Fanny and Stella found themselves on trial for the way they lived and, McKenna argues, like Wilde's trial a quarter of a century later, the trial of Fanny and Stella was a landmark in terms of attitudes to gender, sexuality and identity.
Orhan Pamuk was our first ever interviewee for the Faber Podcast, back in 2007 shortly after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He returns to talk to us about Silent House, a novel first published in Turkish some three decades ago, but only now available in English. The book - a family's story told by multiple narrators each with their own viewpoint - is set in the summer before the 1980 military coup in Turkey - a country divided in which political tensions spill over onto the streets on a daily basis.
Jilted on her wedding day at the last moment, still wearing her dress years later, among the ruins of her wedding breakfast ... But how did someone born into privilege, who seemed to have everything going for her, end up in such a desperate state of spinsterhood? In his new novel 'Havisham' Ronald Frame (who Alexander McCall Smith has called 'Scotland's finest contemporary writer') imagines the earlier life story of one of Dickens' best-known characters, Miss Catherine Havisham. Ronald Frame tells us more about it on the Faber Podcast.
Paul Auster may be best known for his novels - among them The New York Trilogy, The Brooklyn Follies, The Music of Chance and The Book of Illusions - but he first won acclaim with a memoir, his debut work The Invention of Solitude, which he wrote in the aftermath of his father’s sudden death. Now, thirty years later, Auster returns to memoir - though he says he prefers to think of the book as a collection of autobiographical fragments - with his latest book Winter Journal.
For over 50 years Edna O'Brien has been writing about Ireland - in particular, bringing the lives of Irish women to the page with an honesty that had never before been encountered. Her career began in 1960 with The Country Girls, which caused great scandal in her homeland. Driven into exile, she has gone on to create a body of work that bears comparison with the very best writers of the twentieth century. Publication of her memoir - Country Girl - is a major publishing event, and we were lucky to be able to interview her at her London home in September 2012.
Danny McGuire doesn't like his job, but he's good at it. Since his brother's murder eight years earlier he has become a professional killer: a hit man for hire. Danny's been contracted to eliminate the 'Thevshi' - the Ghost - the most elusive informant that has ever penetrated the Republican movement in Northern Ireland. But there's a problem: the Thevshi claims to know who's responsible for his brother's death. Danny's never killed someone he needed to talk to first ... Revenge and retribution are the drivers in John Gordon Sinclair's white-knuckle debut thriller Seventy Times Seven, which he discusses in our latest Faber Podcast.
Francis Spufford is the author of 'I May Be Some Time: Ice and the Imagination', 'The Child that Books Built' and the genre-defying 'Red Plenty'. His new book, 'Unapologetic' is much more personal and polemical - the subtitle makes plain his purpose: 'Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense'. It's an impassioned account of what Christianity means to him as a lived experience, as he explains in this interview for the Faber Podcast.
Do people change their behaviour just because other people do? In his new book 'Positive Linking' economist Paul Ormerod explores how networks - models for human society's interactions - impact on economic policy and behavioural trends, explaining along the way the '50 Shades of Grey' phenomenon, and why Manchester United has become globally successful whilst near neighbour Rochdale AFC is forever floundering.