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Man Booker International Prize 2011 interviews - Anne Tyler

Man Booker International Prize 2011 interviews - Anne Tyler

This was originally posted in April 2011.

MBI: This is the first time you've been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize. How important are literary prizes to you and are you pleased to see your body of work praised by the Man Booker judges?

Anne Tyler: It made me very happy to see my name on that shortlist, all the more so because many of the other names were from such far-flung places. In fact I bought several books by the writers unfamiliar to me; so the nomination has expanded my reading considerably.

MBI: Some of your most well-known characters are male. Is it harder or easier to write from that perspective?

AT: Male characters are more of a challenge to me, because I think men generally are less willing to express their emotions. I'm conscious of a feeling of constraint when I'm looking at things through their eyes.

MBI: Many of your novels centre around family dynamics. What is it about amily life that make such rich matter for your writing?

AT: I like the fact that family members can't so easily walk away from each other when the going gets tough. They're forced to stay at close quarters and grate along together, and that provides wonderful material for novelists.

MBI: Today's writers are under increasing pressure to be online, with publishers encouraging writers to tweet, blog, and so on. What advice would you have for those writers who don't want to create this kind of very public profile?

AT: Well, of course I would say, "Don't do it," but that's because I can't imagine doing it myself. It feels like a physical impossibility.

MBI: Can you recommend any novelists (or poets) who you would like to see finding a wider audience?

AT: I've been telling everyone to read a Canadian author, Lisa Moore, whose novel February I loved. And two recent books by writers I've admired for years - What is Left the Daughter Howard Norman and Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan - deserve to be read by everyone who enjoys serious fiction.

MBI: You've worked as a librarian before - in the UK currently we're seeing many libraries being closed due to funding cuts - how important do you think libraries are for writing communities?

AT: I'm sad to hear about the funding cuts. I love the atmosphere of libraries - even the smell of them - and I think they're ideal places for children to spend time. But "writing community" seems to me a contradiction in terms, and I always picture writers writing alone in their rooms, not in a library.

Anne Tyler, The Man Booker Prize