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" For novelists, sharply drawn moral conflicts are often useful, and even human and personal disasters can be seen as material. "
" Peter Stanford is a writer on religious and ethical matters. He was for four years editor of the 'Catholic Herald.' "
" Not many people like Johannesburg, but I love the place. "
" 'A Just Defiance' has been a huge success in South Africa. While reading at times like a well-written thriller, its significance is to reveal apartheid to have been far more brutal, ruthless, and self-serving even than we had suspected. "
" In his later years, Ramakrishna took up residence at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, from where his radiance extended far, even beyond his death in 1886. "
" The plane approaches Cape Town and, as always, I am astonished by the view of Table Mountain and the surrounding sea. It is so overwhelmingly beautiful that I feel the urge to belong - not necessarily to the people, but to the landscape. "
" Nicola Barker is both prodigiously talented and admirably fearless. I have loved her books. But for some time, I had little or no idea what the point of the story of Sri Ramakrishna was. In fact, he was one of the outstanding men of 19th-century India. "
" 'The Cauliflower' is not strictly a novel, as Barker says in her indispensable afterword. "
" 'The Infinities' is a shortish book but densely loaded with Nabokovian slyness, gorgeous imagery, and disturbing insights into what it means to be mortal. "
" 'Powers of Persuasion: The Story of British Advertising' by Winston Fletcher - the impression you get from reading this book, which covers post-war advertising until the present, is of a chaotic, self-serving, occasionally brilliant but ultimately shallow business. "
" The working-class Africans are not doing very well, and one of the problems is their education is so shocking. It is routinely said it is a result of apartheid. Deliberately, black people were not allowed to know too much. They could read and write a bit to be useful, but that's about it. "
" The book tour is a strange institution. You are wheeled about to explain your book and even to justify it. "
" America is the big subject of the second half of the 20th century, tackled in one form or another by all the great American male writers. You could make a case for saying that it was the only game in town - from Bellow to Roth to Updike to Richard Ford - America was more or less explicitly the leitmotif. "
" The Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford is an astonishing building, designed by Christopher Wren. Its painted ceiling has just been restored so that the darkish miasma that was Robert Streeter's original allegory of truth and light striking the university is now bright with playful cherubs and lustrous clouds. "
" The druidical claims for Stonehenge seem to belong to that bonkers-but-persistent strand of Englishness that believes there is something particularly mystical about the English themselves, who were clearly a chosen people. "
" My own interest in Kafka's letter came about when I was writing an article on Peter Ginz, the boy novelist held in Terezin, not far from Prague, and exterminated in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The Ginz family were from more or less the same milieu as the Kafkas. "
" Tom Fort, a BBC radio journalist, starts from the assumption that 'many of us have a road that reaches back into our past'. For him, this is the 92 miles of the A303 - as he subtitles his book, the 'Highway to the Sun'. "
" I thought I'd write a massive postmodern novel about Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood, but it turns out they couldn't have met because the first mention of Robin Hood appears 60 years after Richard died. "
" Weimar lasted 14 years, the Third Reich only 12. Yet Weimar is always seen as a prelude to the Third Reich, which appears to have been created by Weimar's failures. "
" Nadine Gordimer came over just before she died. She didn't want to talk about books or the arts, but about the abuse of the constitution by the government. "
" Helen Zille, formidable leader of the Democratic Alliance, routinely vilified as representing white interests only, is trying to make sure everyone knows that the case against Zuma is strong and is trying to have it investigated in a judicial review. "
" The great thing about the public is that they're quite capable of believing two absolutely contrary views at the same time. "
" I love John Updike immoderately. I am profoundly shocked that he has gone because he was, for me, the greatest American writer of the second half of the 20th century. He was also a gracious, charming, and witty man. "
" There's this idea of bankers retiring and painting watercolours. You can't dabble in art - it's a life. Being a writer, an artist... is a whole life. "
" Complete barista-standard coffee machines cost from £1,600 to more than £20,000. "
" A connection between poetry and blindness is a classical trope. "
" When Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature at the age of 88, she was the oldest person ever to receive the prize and one of only 11 female winners in its history. Her award was the end of a very long journey from a remote farm in Rhodesia to a banquet at Stockholm's Stadshus, the grand city hall in Stockholm. "
" Jim Crace's novels have one thing in common, which is that each is set in an entirely original world. None of these worlds is of a specific time or place, but they seem to have some connection to our own lives. "
" We authors certainly don't know what is going to happen to our books. Are they going to disappear into the ether, following music downloads, or are ebooks going to open up a whole new world of readers? And how much are we being paid per copy? We haven't a clue. "
" If I had been brought up in America, I think I would still have had the same sort of job as a writer. "
" There was loose talk of Enron management practices and reminders of a scandal at the University of Toronto, when a big donor corporation, Eli Lilly, was said to have vetoed the appointment of an academic who doubted the effectiveness of Prozac. "