We asked our authors three questions:
Which author (living or dead) would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
What book would you give to your younger self to read?
What word would you choose to transmit into space?
SHAHIDA ANWAR. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Jorge Luis Borges; The Garden of Forking Paths is my favourite story but I don’t necessarily agree with Borges’ views on other things so there should be plenty to talk about. I would give A Brief History of Time to my younger self to read; if I had started reading it at a younger age I might have finished it by now. I would transmit the word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ into space.
RACHELLE ARTHEY. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Judy Blume; she is a genius and I would happily bask in her glory for a couple of floors. I would give How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran, to my younger self to read; I picked up The Female Eunuch when I was a teenager and quickly put it down again. If I’d had Caitlin Moran’s words of wisdom instead perhaps I would have spent more time trying to change the world and less time worrying about my leg hair. I would transmit the word ‘Boo’ into space.
JACQUELINE BYRNE. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Graham Greene; I’d ask him which literary sin is the hardest to forgive. I would give The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers, to my younger self to read; it would have been a great comfort for an awkward little girl who didn’t quite fit in. I would transmit the word ‘Help!’ into space.
CASSANDRA DE-WALE. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Margaret Atwood; we could speculate on fiction and chew the fat over Sci-Fi. I would give my younger self EVERY book I’ve read during my Birkbeck creative writing courses and I’d tell her to stop reading all that Richard Laymon crap. I would transmit the word ‘freedom’ into space.
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NYDIA HETHERINGTON. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Angela Carter; so I could breathe in her brilliance. I would give Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, to my younger self to read; because I still haven’t read it! I would transmit the word ‘cheese’ into space.
RUTH LIVINGSTONE. I would like to be stuck in a lift with John Fowles; so that I can ask him what the hell The Magus is all about, and beg him to give it a proper ending. I would give The Hunger Games to my thirteen-year-old self to read; because it has a strong, intelligent female lead, and I could have done with a decent role model. I would transmit the word ‘Help!’ into space.
PETER OWU. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Ayi Kwei Armah; The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born had a profound impact on me as a teenager and showed me how writing can illuminate truth. I would give Revolutionary Road to my younger self to read; I think my writing would have been enriched by encountering the genius of Richard Yates and the beauty of his craft much earlier than I did. I would transmit the word ‘sublime’ into space.
FELICITY STEPHEN. I would like to be stuck in a lift with Gabriel Garcia Marquez; I’d have loved to hear him tell a tale, in person. I would give Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, to my younger self to read; if this book had been on the school reading list, it would have inspired me to write more when I was younger—it contains such a richness of image, poetry and vibrancy in its language. I would transmit the word ‘learning’ into space.
BENJAMIN WOOD. I would like to be stuck in a lift with David Foster Wallace; the conversation would be deeply entertaining, plus he’d be able to figure out how to fix the lift, given an hour or so. I would give Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy to my younger self to read; I read it when I was nineteen, which was much too late, and made me waste a lot of time not understanding my own writing very well. I would transmit the word ‘M’aidez’ into space.