Best known previously for his art-house novel Remainder and saving literature from itself, author Tom McCarthy has been pretty much everywhere since the somewhat surprising inclusion of his new novel C on the Booker long-list. Tom may not actually be bigger than Jesus — or the bookies favourite — but he certainly does give good interview…
To James Purdon for The Observer :
“The avant garde can’t be ignored, so to ignore it – as most humanist British novelists do – is the equivalent of ignoring Darwin. Then you’re just a creationist. It’s ostrich-like. It needs to be worked through – which is not the same thing as imitation…
People use [‘experimental’] when what they actually mean is ‘not conforming to a certain type of realism’, and that’s just as much a literary convention as anything else. Burroughs said his ‘cut-up’ writing was more realistic than Jane Austen. I think he was right. You’re being assailed by associations and networks. Everything is a code…”
To Tim Robey for The Telegraph :
“We exist because we are awash in a sea of transmission, with language and technology rushing through us…”
And to Stuart Evers for The New Statesman:
“Commentators and critics seem to want fiction either to be blatantly avant-garde and postmodern, or to be realist and 19th century; but really most literature is neither nor… ‘The avant-garde’ describes a specific historical moment that belongs to the early part of the 20th century. Certainly in C there is a huge amount of that moment behind the writing; the avant-garde is definitely embedded in it. But at the same time I think it gets used as catch-all term now for something that isn’t retrograde, anything that’s not a kind of nostalgic, kitsch version of the 19th-century novel, which is what much of middlebrow fiction right now is.”
My interview with Tom McCarthy and book designer Peter Mendelsund is here.
Update: The fine folks at 3:AM Magazine have also posted an interview with Tom about C.