[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Politics
Newsnight Review discussed the first novel by Adam Thirlwell who was placed on Granta's list of Best Young British Novelists under forty.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)


KIRSTY WARK:
Jeanette, let's talk about this Granta List. He is like Monica Ali who was on the list before anything was published. He is under terrific pressure.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
I understand it. I have enormous sympathy for him. I started when I was 24. You are young and need time to grow up and find your own voice. Then it wasn't like this. You weren't immediately hyped. It wasn't a version of Pop Idol. You were given a chance to find yourself. This doesn't happen any more. The poor guy has enormous pressure thrown on him. It's an interesting novel. I am pleased he is trying to do something different with it. I am the last person who wants to see narrative-driven reproduction novels, which is mostly all you get. The ambition is compelling. It's a good debut but it's not a great book that he should have to pin his reputation on.

KIRSTY WARK:
Armando, the sex is so resolutely un-erotic and anatomical and self-conscious. He says though it's a good way to unlock character, did it do it for you?

ARMANDO IANUCCI:
No. I hated the book, I have to say! I felt that the detail and energy that went into the description of the sex scenes just pointed out all the more the lack of detail and the lack of any emotional connection with anything else in the book. The plot is pretty fragile and he admits it. But we gather that the crucial relationship is between one of the characters and her father. And yet throughout the book I got very little sense of what that relationship was like.

KIRSTY WARK:
What Adam does is invests a lot in the father figure as the voice of morality, the older, wiser voice.

ARMANDO IANUCCI:
The guardian angel he calls him. There are so many tricks he plays as an author and as "a writer". He protests so many times that he doesn't want you to misunderstand his writings.

KIRSTY WARK:
What he says is that he couldn't have written this book had it not been for what had gone before.

IAN RANKIN:
I think he has shown you his influences and while I was reading the book I wrote down the word Kundera, and ten pages later he mentioned Kundera. I was reminded of lots of authors. Playful authors and authors with simplistic style and playful narrative. You are getting exuberance, someone in love with narrative and what it can do. If sometimes he puts in too much or seems presumptuous, there are sentences where he is saying, "You won't know what this is." It thinks you don't know what the ending of Casablanca is. I don't know who he thinks his audience are.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
That's the problem with being a fellow of All Souls for seven years and having access to the wine cellar. He should get out of there. This is a clever-Dick novel, the pun is intentional. He needs to live and escape all this.

IAN RANKIN:
This is a sex comedy. It's got a lot of sex and made me laugh. What more do you want from a sex comedy?

KIRSTY WARK:
He talks with language and speaks in colloquial pigeon English because he says novels don't reflect the way people speak. I thought it worked well.

ARMANDO IANUCCI:
I just got annoyed. It was another gimmick. I thought the story was interesting. He was so keen for us to like his characters, I thought it would be nice to hear the character's story as written by someone else. He decides from the outset, I am sure, to come up with as many playful tricks and narrative twists and it's almost as if he was more aware of what the reaction would be to the book than what it was he really wanted to talk about.

KIRSTY WARK:
Is it understandable, though, Ian?

IAN RANKIN:
I think so. The noose around his neck at the moment is the next Martin Amis, which can be the death knell for any novelist.


RELATED BBCi LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific