Talking Location With author Graham Hurley: BAKU
Novels where literary landscapes are as central as any character
24th October 2018
Literary Landscapes by John Sutherland, General Editor
Led by John Sutherland, a team of specialist literary critics have contributed individual essays on over 70 literary novels where landscape is as central to the tale as any character.
This is a beautifully constructed book with a wonderful array of illustrations. The choice of authors is unparalleled, each short chapter offers up a new household name. Most are indeed familiar names, highlighting books that are often synonymous with a particular author. It is an eclectic whistle stop tour through the landscapes, histories and cultures of the world, exploring the work of these diverse authors.
The book opens with works set in the 19th Century, a period characterised by its Romantic focus. It then moves on through Modernism, into the postwar period and culminates in more contemporary works. Dickens, Tolstoy, Scott Fitzgerald, Zafón, Ferrante are but a few of the names that will get literary juices flowing, all of whom are renowned for incorporating an evocative sense of place into their work. Through their books the reader can glean insights into culture and place through the rich and colourful lens of the author. The world is there for the taking…..
There are many authors featured whose work provides a sense of the footsteps past. In Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Avonlea, the distinct Edward Island village at the heart of the book, is the element that binds the children in the story together. Place, of course is central to The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece set in New York City and Long Island. John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row opens with a powerful description of this area of Monterey, from the people inhabiting the seedy boulevards to the detail of the pavements and buildings. It offers up a real sense of place and time (1945).
The Lives of Others by Neil Mukherjee has always been a favourite of ours to really get under the skin of Kolkata and that gets very good coverage (although I couldn’t determine easily by whom, see my thoughts below). Neither Elena Ferranti could be omitted from a treatise such as this and My Brilliant Friend is the first of the Neapolitan novels; nor Tim Winton, whose novel Cloudstreet is the novel of Australia (Perth to be precise) and winner of the Miles Franklin Prize in 1991.
It is impossible to mention all the wonderful books and the beautiful images that populate the pages of this book and if you are a lover of words, location, erudition and thoughtful insights, then this is a perfect choice.
The input of specialist literary critics is a highlight of the book – basically each specialist shares their thoughts on their chosen books – but they are rather hard to identify, it has to be said. For each book featured, the location, title and author are wonderfully evident but you have to search around at the back for the contributors. Much better to have included them on the book page itself.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
DO look out for our giveaway on the 28 October, when we will be offering one copy of the book plus a matching tote bag!
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