Landfall - Helen Gordon interview

Landfall - Helen Gordon interview

The debut author discusses her novel, in which a London arts journalist is stranded in the suburbs

Our debut author Q&As continue with Helen Gordon, whose first book is about a London art magazine writer who returns to her suburban family household and confronts some difficult home truths

Give us five words to describe Landfall?
Journalist falls off the edge.

Name one author who should be more famous than they are now?
Penelope Fitzgerald, who died in 2000, remains sadly neglected by the book buying public. Her short novels, by turns funny and tragic, are strange, exquisite meditations ranging from tales of houseboats in the 1960s, to a novel about an 18th century German poet.

What was the first book you read?
At primary school I remember reading and re-reading Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword but the very first book was probably The Hungry Caterpillar or some such.

Which book makes you cry?
The last book that made me tearful was Chris Adrian’s The Great Night. There’s a heartbreaking moment involving the death of ‘Blankie’, a sort of living blanket/pet belonging to the king and queen of the fairies. It’s complicated. Otherwise, Katherine Mansfield wrote stories with unexpected endings that often leave you momentarily convinced that the world is dark, troubling and very, very sad.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?
Angela Carter, who died in 1992, would be 71 now. I’d love to know how the past 20 years would have appeared in her fiction and to hear her views on feminism in the new millennium.

Which book makes you laugh?
Most things by Lorrie Moore. She does humour with heavy doses of pathos and insight, and her characters have some of the best one-liners in contemporary fiction.

Landfall is published by Fig Tree on Thu 6 Oct.

Helen Gordon reads from her brilliant debut novel, Landfall

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