Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Jim Crace at NCLA



On 21/02/13 we were honoured to have Jim Crace, the internationally acclaimed and twice Booker shortlisted author, appear at NCLA. Described by John Updike as 'a writer of almost hallucinatory skill,' Jim Crace offered the crowd a compelling but at times harrowing insight into the writing process.


The evening began with a picture being shown from Crace's childhood. In it he was stood by his father in the sea during a trip to the coast. The rediscovery of this photo was described as the moment he first conceived a novel. He was struck, he told us, to find his wife in possession of a very similar photo of her as a child by the sea with her mother. This coincidence inspired him to create a novel to try and take his wife back to that moment.


But following the attainment of a large advance, he was unable to get a grasp on this novel despite huge commitment and effort to its cause. The sense of nagging doubt and elusiveness this evoked was skilfully imparted, leading up the moment his agent urged him to abandon the work. Having accepted this decision the homeward train journey, and an illuminating string of thoughts inspired by the landscape out of the window, led to the inception of ‘Harvest’- possibly Crace’s final novel.


This led us to a reading from Harvest. The novel charts the unravel of a pastoral idyll. The use of landscape in novel form, both as a means of understanding the world and of capturing loss, was proposed before an insightful and entertaining question and answer session with NCLA's Linda Anderson. Talks at NCLA also offer the audience the opportunity to ask questions of appearing writers, and Crace offered amusing and generous insights into his life and work.

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