[Jim Crace] cites double-Booker winner Hilary Mantel – ‘the absolute gold standard for historical novelists’ – to further clarify his project. ‘A while back she issued some very sensible edicts about writing historical novels. Number one was that if you include a fact then you should make sure it is true. I’m not interested in that at all. I don’t want facts, I want to make things up and to dig deep into traditional storytelling to produce a tale that illustrates the subject matter I care about. I wanted to write about the loss of land and people’s relationship with the land. The purpose of this book belongs more to that article in the Guardian about soya barons, and to current-day asylum seekers in Birmingham, than it does to history.’ Mantel’s second rule was not to foist modern sensibilities on to a historical landscape. ‘No feminists in 1420. But I’m not interested in anything else but foisting those sensibilities and writing books that concern the 21st-century. None of this is a critique of what Mantel does so perfectly. It is just to illustrate that for me it is a whole different ball game.’

Jim Crace @ Guardian Books

Jim Crace is not only a favorite writer but one I feel very “close” to philosophically, ridiculous as that may sound. His Paris Review "The Art of Fiction" interview was the first I’d seen an established writer of whom I’m a fan talk about their fiction in a way that resonated with what I think I’m trying to do myself, rather than coming away feeling I’m doing it wrong as I do after seeing what most writers say. And in this new interview he describes finally abandoning what seemed like an “important” project after beating his head against it too long, which is just where I’ve been this summer. I hope I get the opportunity to thank him for all this in person someday.

Notes

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