From Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood to Children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, American historical novelist Tracy Chevalier to Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, the 12-part series explores the best of 21st century fiction writing.
The first episode kicks off with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), was awarded the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Chimamanda’s latest novel, Americanah (2013) focuses on romance, race and identity following a young woman’s journey from Nigeria to America.
Presenters Razia Iqbal and Gavin Esler uncover the themes that run through each writer’s work, the characters they have invented and the development of their writing style .Other key highlights from the season:
•Mohsin Hamid, a Pakistani author best known for his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)which saw him shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and has been adapted into a film. His three novels offer a vision of Pakistani modernity that challenges the prevailing stereotype of the country since 9/11. He tells Talking Books: “The self-help form allowed me to be honest about what I do which is write as a kind of self-help and also allowed me to raise the notion that readers read in part as a kind of self-help too.”
•Tracy Chevalier, a London-based expatriate from Washington is author of New York Times bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring(1999)which was later adapted into a film garnering three Academy Award nominations. The novel has since sold three million copies worldwide. Tracy’s subsequent works include Burning Bright (2007), set in the 18th century neighbourhood of poet William Blake. Her latest novel The Last Runaway (2013), visits a Quaker community in Ohio where freedom is limited and slavery is rife.
•Michael Morpurgo is one of the UK’s most prolific children’s writers. He was the third Children’s Laureate and author of War Horse (1982) which sparked a multi-award winning play and a 2011 film directed by Steven Spielberg. His recent work includes Homecoming (2013); a lyrical tale set in his childhood seaside home of Bradwell where Michael re-visits an idyllic place he lived 50 years ago. Speaking about the acclaimed War Horse, he tells Talking Books: “Having seen what war has done to the world, when I am writing about war I am taking a view on it, that does not mean the person reading it has to agree with me, but I do want to make them think.”
•Margaret Atwood, is an award-winning Canadian novelist and poet who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times. Her novel The Blind Assassin (2000), set in the Toronto of the 1930s and 1940s, won the Booker Prize in 2000 and the Hammett Prize in 2001. Other notable works include The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1993) and the Oryx and Crake trilogy that culminates in her latest novel Maddadam (2013), which will be released this autumn.
Talking Books will air weekly on BBC World News every Saturday at 1.00pm and Sunday at 6.00pm