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" It seems to me that we often commit ourselves wholly to something while knowing almost nothing concrete about it. Another word for that, I suppose, is 'faith.' "
" Books are not brands. Some people are very willing to see themselves as a brand, but you can't be a certain type of writer to a certain type of person all the time. It will kill you. "
" I'm very attracted to exile literature - particularly Nabokov - exactly because the idea of being away from home for any serious length of time is so inconceivable to me. "
" There is a kind of desperate need for somebody to tell everyone what to do, which I find really peculiar in America. And then when you tell them, they're not interested, because it's also a country where everybody's opinion is their opinion, and they really don't give a damn what you think. So it's a very odd experience. "
" Any artist who aligns themselves with a politician is making a category error because what politicians do is not on a human scale, it is on a geopolitical scale. "
" There's constantly this melancholy about British hip-hop. People are always waiting for it to explode like American hip-hop, but it might just be that British hip-hop will always be as it is: an underground thing which will stay that way. "
" My short stories have always pushed twenty pages. That's no length for a short story to be. You either do them short like Carver or you stop trying. "
" I love to dance, and sing - in the shower, not in public. I'm too old to go raving, but my fondest memories are of that kind of thing - dancing, with lots of people, outside if possible. "
" English fiction was something I loved growing up, and it changed my life - it changed the trajectory of my life. "
" I just realized quite early on that I'm not going to be the type who can write a novel every two years. I think you need to feel an urgency about the act. Otherwise, when you read it, you feel no urgency, either. So I don't write unless I really feel I need to, and that's a luxury. "
" It's difficult to tell the truth about how a book begins. The truth, as far as it can be presented to other people, is either wholly banal or too intimate. "
" Young people understand the world. They should be listened to on matters of politics and world organization. But they know nothing of their own lives. "
" A lot of people seem to feel that joy is only the most intense version of pleasure, arrived at by the same road - you simply have to go a little further down the track. That has not been my experience. "
" I recognize myself to be an intensely naive person. Most novelists are, despite frequent pretensions to deep socio-political insight. "
" Writing is my way of expressing - and thereby eliminating - all the various ways we can be wrong-headed. "
" I wouldn't write about people who are living and who are close to me, because I think it's a very violent thing to do to another person. And anytime I have done it, even in the disguise of fiction, the results have been horrific. "
" Unless you consider yourself some sort of human brand, which I don't, you have to deal with the fact that different people are going to like different aspects of your work. It's not consistent. I am not consistent. But I feel OK with that. "
" English writing tends to fall into two categories - the big, baggy epic novel or the fairly controlled, tidy novel. For a long time, I was a fan of the big, baggy novel, but there's definitely an advantage to having a little bit more control. "
" You become a different writer when you approach a short story. When things are not always having to represent other things, you find real human beings begin to cautiously appear on your pages. "
" There is no bigger crime, in the English comic novel, than thinking you are right. "
" Cambridge was a joy. Tediously. People reading books in a posh place. It was my fantasy. I loved it. I miss it still. "
" The conflation of the simple in style with the morally prescriptive in character, and the complex in style with the amoral or anarchic in character, seems to me one of the most persistently fallacious beliefs held by English students. "
" Women often have a great need to portray themselves as sympathetic and pleasing, but we're also dark people with dark thoughts. "
" I wrote 'White Teeth' in the late nineties. I didn't really feel trepidatious about it. It was a different time. "
" The lack of alternatives to an illegal action does not legitimise that action. "
" The utterly fallacious idea at the heart of the pro-war argument is that it is the duty of the anti-war argument to provide an alternative to war. The onus is on them to explain just cause. "
" I lost many literary battles the day I read 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.' I had to concede that occasionally aphorisms have their power. I had to give up the idea that Keats had a monopoly on the lyrical. "
" When I think of the books I love, there's always a little laughter in the dark. "
" Your mid-thirties is a good time because you know a fair amount, you have some self-control. "
" I often worry that my idea of personhood is nostalgic, irrational, inaccurate. "
" Can't a rapper insist, like other artists, on a fictional reality, in which he is somehow still on the corner, despite occupying the penthouse suite? "