Books

WHAT BOOK would novelist Stuart Turton take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would novelist Stuart Turton take to a desert island?

  • Stuart Turton is currently reading The Power Of The Dog by Thomas Savage 
  • Novelist would take The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy to a desert island 
  • Revealed Agatha Christie books first gave him the reading bug  

. . . are you reading now?

I’m about to finish The Power Of The Dog by Thomas Savage. It’s brilliant, but I can’t wait to be done with it. The atmosphere is so cloying I immediately need a shower when I put it down, and every time I think about picking it up again I’m filled with dread.

Jane Campion has made it into a film with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. He’s definitely not who I pictured while reading it, but that doesn’t matter because I won’t be watching it.

I’m sure he’ll be brilliant, but I’ve suffered enough. Believe it or not, this is a recommendation. I hate its world, and I hate the characters, but I love how convincing it all feels.

How many books cover you in grime?

Novelist Stuart Turton (pictured) would take The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy to a desert island

. . . would you take to a desert island?

I’d take The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Every line of that book is beautiful. Every paragraph says something important, in a way it’s never been said before. I read it once a year and something new always leaps out at me.

I was in my early 20s when I read it first, and the journey of the children into adulthood really resonated with me. Now I’m 40, it’s the thwarted dreams of the older characters that ring a bell. I do sound depressed. I could honestly subsist the rest of my life on that book.

As a reader, there’s always something to enjoy, and as a writer there’s always something to learn.

. . . first gave you the reading bug?

When I was eight years old my neighbour Doris started bringing around stacks of Agatha Christie books she’d bought from car boot sales.

I still have no idea why, except that she was a brilliant human. By the time I was ten, I’d gone through all of them.

At some point I started treating them like board games I was playing against Christie.

I’d make notes in the margins and underline things, desperately trying to guess the ending before she delivered it.

I delayed reading the ending of The ABC Murders for a week because I was convinced I almost had the answer (I didn’t!). I remember getting to the last book and being utterly dumbfounded that there weren’t any more to read. That’s when I decided I’d have to write my own. It was easier to say than do.

. . . left you cold?

If you’ve written a book, you’ve climbed a mountain. I’m not going to criticise how you got up there. That said, I’m still wading through the manual for my camera. Forty pages in and I still can’t take a picture. My editor would be furious.

The Devil And The Dark Water by Stuart Turton is out now (£8.99, Raven Books) and has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. The winner will be announced on September 30.

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